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-H A to Z of'Vome 



Greek and Roman 







Ancient Greek 

and Roman 


Revised Edition 

-H A to 2 of"Vomen ^- 


Ancient Greek 

and Roman 


Revised Edition 


EfFacts On File 

An imprint of Infobase Publishing 

A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women, Revised Edition 

Copyright © 2008, 2000 by Marjorie Lightman and Benjamin Lightman 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic 
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Lightman, Marjorie. 

A to Z of ancient Greek and Roman women / Marjorie Lightman and Benjamin Lightman. — Rev. ed. 
p. cm. — (A to Z of women) 

Rev. ed. of: Biographical dictionary of ancient Greek and Roman women. 2000. 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

ISBN-13: 978-0-8160-6710-7 

ISBN-10: 0-8160-6710-4 

1. Women — Rome — Biography — Dictionaries. 2. Women — Greece — Biography — Dictionaries. 3. Women — 
Biography — To 500 — Dictionaries. I. Lightman, Benjamin. II. Title. 

HQ1136.L54 2007 

305.4092'237— dc22 2007011873 

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This book is printed on acid-free paper. 



Preface xiii 

Anastasia (2) 21 

Arria Fadilla 40 

Introduction xvii 

Anastasia (3) 21 

Arria the Elder 40 

Ancharia 22 

Arria the Younger 4 1 


Anteia 22 

Arsinoe 42 

Acte, Claudia 1 

Antigone 22 

Arsinoe I 43 

Acutia 1 

Antistia (1) 23 

Arsinoe II Philadelphus 43 

Ada 2 

Antistia (2) 23 

Arsinoe III Philopator 44 

Aelia lunilla 2 

Antistia Pollitta 23 

Arsinoe Auletes 45 

Aelia Paetina 2 

Antonia (1) 24 

Artacama 45 

Aemilia (1) 3 

Antonia (2) 24 

Artemisia I 45 

Aemilia (2) 3 

Antonia (3) 24 

Artemisia II 46 

Aemilia Lepida (1) 


Antonia (4) 25 

Artonis 46 

Aemilia Lepida (2) 


Antonia the Elder 25 

Artoria Flaccilla 46 

Aemilia Lepida (3) 


Antonia the Younger 26 

Asella 47 

Aemilia Lepida (4) 


Antonia Tryphaena 28 

Aspasia 48 

Aemilia Tertia 6 

Antonina 28 

Atia(l) 48 

Afriana (Carfania) 


Antye 30 

Atia (2) 49 

Agariste (1) 7 

Apama (1) 31 

Atilia 49 

Agariste (2) 7 

Apama (2) 31 

Attia Variola 49 

Agariste (3) 8 

Apega 32 

Attica, Caecilia 50 

Agathocleia 8 

Apicata 32 

Aurelia (1) 50 

Agesistrata 8 

Appuleia Varilla 33 

Aurelia (2) 50 

Agiatis 9 

Apronia 33 

Aurelia Orestilla 5 1 

Aglaonice 9 

Arcadia 33 

Aurelia Severa 51 

Agrippina the Elder 

Vipsania 9 

Archidamia 34 

Axiothea(l) 51 

Agrippina the Youn 

jer, Julia 12 

Archippe (1) 35 

Axiothea(2) 51 

Albina the Elder 14 

Archippe (2) 35 

Balbilla, Julia 53 

Albina the Younger 


Archo 36 

Barsine (1) 53 

Albucilla 17 

Aretaphila 36 

Barsine (2) 54 

Ace 17 

Arete (1) 36 

Bastia 54 

Alexandra 18 

Arete (2) 37 

Berenice (1) 55 

Amalasuntha 18 

Ariadne, Aelia 37 

Berenice (2) 55 

Amastris 20 

Aristomache 39 

Berenice I 56 

Anastasia (1) 20 

Arrecina Tertulla 40 

Berenice II of Cyrene 56 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

Berenice III Cleopatra 58 
Berenice IV Cleopatra 58 
Berenice Syra 59 
Bilistiche 59 
Blaesilla 60 
Boudicca 61 
Busa 61 
Caecilia 62 
Caecilia Metella (1) 62 
Caecilia Metella (2) 63 
Caedicia 63 
Caenis Antonia 63 
Caesaria 64 
Calpurnia (1) 64 
Calpurnia (2) 64 
Calpurnia (3) 64 
Calpurnia Hispulla 65 
Calvia Crispinilla 65 
Calvina 65 

Cannutia Crescentina 66 
Cartimandua 66 
Casta Caecilia 66 
Castricia 67 
Celerina, Pompeia 68 
Chaerestrate 68 
Chelidon 68 
Chilonis (1) 69 
Chilonis (2) 69 
Chilonis (3) 69 
Chiomara 69 
Claudia (1) 70 
Claudia (2) 70 
Claudia (3) 71 
Claudia (4) 71 
Claudia (5) 72 
Claudia (6) 72 
Claudia Pulchra 72 
Cleito 73 
Cleoboule 73 
Cleobuline 74 
Cleodice 74 
Cleopatra (1) 74 
Cleopatra (2) 74 
Cleopatra (3) 75 
Cleopatra (4) 76 
Cleopatra (5) 76 

Cleopatra I (The Syrian) 77 
Cleopatra II Philometor 

Soteira 77 
Cleopatra III 78 
Cleopatra IV 80 
Cleopatra V Selene 80 
Cleopatra VI Tryphaena 8 1 
Cleopatra VII 81 
Cleopatra Selene 84 
Cleopatra Thea 85 
Cleopatra Tryphaena 87 
Cleora 87 
Clodia (1) 88 
Clodia (2) 88 
Clodia (3) 89 
Clodia (4) 90 
Clodia Laeta 90 
Cloelia(l) 91 
Cloelia(2) 91 
Coesyra 91 
Constantia 9 1 
Constantia, Flavia Julia 92 
Constantina 92 
Corellia Hispulla 93 
Corinna 93 
Cornelia (1) 94 
Cornelia (2) 94 
Cornelia (3) 96 
Cornelia (4) 96 
Cornelia (5) 96 
Cornelia (6) 97 
Cornelia (7) 97 
Cornelia (8) 97 
Cornelia (9) 98 
Cornelia (10) 98 
Cornelia (11) 98 
Cornelia (12) 99 
Cornificia 99 
Cratesicleia 99 
Cratesipolis 100 
Crispina 100 
Crispina Bruttia 100 
Cynane 101 
Cynisca 101 
Cytheris Volumnia 101 
Danae 1 03 

Deinomache 1 03 

Demarete 1 04 

Domitia 104 

Domitia Lepida 1 04 

Domitia Longina 105 

Domitia Lucilla 106 

Domitia Paulina (1) 106 

Domitia Paulina (2) 107 

Domitilla, Flavia (1) 107 

Domitilla, Flavia (2) 107 

Domnica 1 07 

Doris 108 

Drusilla (1) 108 

Drusilla (2) 108 

Drypetis 109 

Duronia 109 

Egeria 111 

Egnatia Maximilla 112 

Elpinice 112 

Ennia Thrasylla 113 

Epicharis 113 

Erinna 114 

Euboea 114 

Eudocia 114 

Eudocia, Aelia (Athenais) 115 

Eudoxia, Aelia 120 

Eudoxia, Licinia 124 

Eugraphia 125 

Euphemia (1) (Lupicina) 125 

Euphemia (2) 126 

Eurydice (1) 126 

Eurydice (2) (Adea) 127 

Eurydice (3) 128 

Eurydice (4) 128 

Euryleonis 129 

Eusebia 129 

Eustochium 129 

Euthydice (Eurydice) 131 

Eutropia, Galeria Valeria 1 32 

Fabia 134 

Fabiola 134 

Fadia 135 

Fannia (1) 136 

Fannia (2) 136 

Fausta 137 

Fausta, Flavia Maxima 1 37 



Faustina, Aelia Flavia 

Julia (5) 162 

Livia Drusilla 188 

Maxima 138 

Julia (6) 162 

Livia Ocellina 192 

Faustina the Elder, Annia 

Julia (7) 164 

Livia Orestilla 192 

Galeria 138 

Julia (8) 165 

Livilla, Livia Julia Claudia 1 92 

Faustina the Younger, Annia 

Julia Aquilia Severa 166 

Lollia Paulina 194 

Galeria 139 

Julia Avita Mamaea 166 

Lucilia 195 

Flaccilla, Aelia Flavia 140 

Julia Cornelia Paula 168 

Lucilla, Annia Aurelia 

Flora 141 

Julia Domna 168 

Galeria 195 

Floronia 141 

Julia Drusilla (1) 169 

Lucretia 196 

Fulvia (1) 141 

Julia Drusilla (2) 170 

Lysandra 1 96 

Fulvia (2) 142 

Julia Flavia 170 

Macrina 198 

Galeria Fundana 145 

Julia Livilla 171 

Macrina the Younger 198 

Galla 146 

Julia Maesa 171 

Maecia Faustina 200 

Gallitta 146 

Juliana, Anicia 172 

Maesia 201 

Glaphyra(l) 147 

Julia Phoebe 174 

Magia 201 

Glaphyra (2) 147 

Julia Procilla 174 

Mallonia 201 

Glycera 147 

Julia Soaemias Bassiana 174 

Marcella 202 

Gorgo 148 

Junia (1) 175 

Marcella the Elder, Claudia 204 

Gratilla 148 

Junia (2) 175 

Marcella the Younger, 

Gygaea 148 

Junia (3) 176 

Claudia 205 

Hagesichora 150 

Junia Calvina 176 

Marcellina 205 

Hedyto 150 

Junia Claudilla 177 

Marcia (1) 206 

Hegesipyle 150 

Junia Lepida 177 

Marcia (2) 206 

Helena 151 

Junia Silana 177 

Marcia (3) 207 

Helena Flavia Julia (1) 151 

Junia Tenia 178 

Marcia (4) 208 

Helena, Flavia Julia (2) 152 

Junia Torquata 179 

Marcia Furnilla 208 

Helvia 153 

Justina 179 

Marciana, Ulpia 208 

Herodias 153 

Labda 181 

Maria 209 

Herpyllis 153 

Laelia 181 

Marina 210 

Hipparchia 1 54 

Lais 182 

Marsa 211 

Hipparete (1) 154 

Lamia 1 82 

Martina 211 

Hipparete(2) 154 

Lanassa 182 

Matidia(l) 212 

Hispala Faecenia 155 

Laodice I 182 

Matidia(2) 213 

Hispulla 155 

Laodicelll 183 

Melania the Elder 213 

Honoria, Justa Grata 1 56 

Lastheneia 184 

Melania the Younger 216 

Horatia 1 57 

Leaena 184 

Melinno 220 

Hortensia 157 

Leontia 184 

Melissa 220 

Hydna 158 

Leontion 185 

Messallina, Valeria 221 

Hypatia 158 

Licinia(l) 185 

Milonia Caesonia 224 

Ilia 159 

Licinia(2) 185 

Minervina 225 

Ismenodora 159 

Licinia(3) 186 

Minucia 225 

Isodice 159 

Licinia(4) 186 

Monica 225 

Julia (1) 160 

Licinia(5) 187 

Mucia 227 

Julia (2) 160 

Licinia(6) 187 

Mucia Tertia 227 

Julia (3) 161 

Licinia(7) 187 

Mummia Achaica 228 

Julia (4) 161 

Livia 188 

Munatia Plancina 228 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

Musa, Thea Urania 229 
Mutilia Prisca 230 
Myrrhine 230 
Myrtis 231 
Myrto 231 
Neaera 232 
Nicaea (1) 233 
Nicaea (2) 233 
Nicopolis 234 
Nossis 234 
Numantina, Fabia 234 
Occia 235 
Octavia (1) 235 
Octavia (2) 235 
Octavia, Claudia 237 
Oculata 238 
Oenanthe 238 
Olympias (1) 239 
Olympias (2) 241 
Olympias (3) 241 
Opimia 244 
Orbiana 244 
Papiria 245 
Paula the Elder 245 
Paula the Younger 248 
Paulina 249 
Paxaea 250 
Perictione 250 
Perpetua, Vibia 250 
Petronia 253 
Phaenarete 253 
Phila (1) 253 
Phila (2) 254 
Philesia 255 
Philinna 255 
Phryne 255 
Phthia 256 
Pilia 256 
Pipa (Pipara) 257 
Placidia 257 
Placidia, Aelia Galla 258 
Plangon 26 1 
Plathane 262 
Plautia Urgulanilla 262 
Plautilla 263 
Plotina, Pompeia 263 

Pompeia (1) 264 
Pompeia (2) 265 
Pompeia Macrina 265 
Pompeia Paulina 266 
Pomponia (1) 266 
Pomponia (2) 267 
Pomponia Galla 267 
Pomponia Graecina 267 
Pomponia Rufina 268 
Popilia 268 
Poppaea Sabina (1) 268 
Poppaea Sabina (2) 269 
Porcia 271 
Potone 272 
Praecia 272 
Praxilla 272 
Prisca 273 

Proba, Anicia Faltonia 273 
Proba, Faltonia Betitia 275 
Publilia (1) 275 
Publilia (2) 276 
Pudentilla, Aemilia 276 
Pulcheria, Aelia 277 
Pythias 282 
Pythodoris 282 
Pythonice 282 
Quarta Hostilia 284 
Rhea 285 
Rhodopis 285 
Roxane 285 
Rubria 286 
Sabina, Vibia 287 
Salome 288 
Salonina, Cornelia 288 
Salvina (Silvina) 289 
Sancia 290 
Sappho 291 
Sassia 291 
Satria Galla 292 
Scribonia 292 
Sempronia (1) 294 
Sempronia (2) 294 
Serena 295 
Servilia (1) 297 
Servilia (2) 299 
Servilia (3) 299 

Servilia (4) 300 
Sextia(l) 300 
Sextia(2) 301 
Sextilia 301 
Silia 301 
Sosia Gallia 302 
Sosipatra 302 
Statilia 302 
Statilia Messallina 303 
Stratonice (1) 303 
Stratonice (2) 304 
Stratonice (3) 304 
Sulpicia (1) 305 
Sulpicia (2) 305 
Syncletica 306 
Tanaquil 307 
Telesilla 307 
Terentia (1) 308 
Terentia (2) 311 
Tettia Etrusc 312 
Teuta 313 
Thais 313 
Thebe 314 
Themista 314 
Theodora 314 
Theodora, Flavia 

Maximiana 319 
Theoxena 320 
Thermantia, Aemilia 

Materna 320 
Thessalonice 32 1 
Timaea 32 1 
Timandra 321 
Timo 322 
Timocleia 322 
Triaria 322 
Tullia (1) 323 
Tullia (2) 323 
Urgulania 326 
Valeria (1) 327 
Valeria (2) 327 
Varronilla 328 
Verania 328 
Verginia (1) 329 
Verginia (2) 329 
Verina (Aelia) 330 
Vespasia Polla 331 


Vibidia 332 
Victoria (Vitruvia) 332 
Vipsania Agrippina 332 
Vistilia 333 

Vitia 333 
Xanthippe 335 
Zenobia, Septimia 336 
Zenonis 337 

nstry 339 
Glossary 367 
Bibliography 371 
Index 381 



A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women, 
Revised Edition, was an unexpected intellec- 
tual adventure. We have extended the time period 
to include women of the later Roman Empire. 
Like many others who have studied the Greco- 
Roman world, we were less familiar with the fourth 
through sixth centuries C.e. than with earlier 
times, although the period had well-known names, 
such as Theodora and Justinian, and well-docu- 
mented achievements, such as the codification of 
Roman statutory law. We were also reasonably well 
acquainted with the development of Christianity 
and its spread across the empire, accompanied by 
doctrinal disputes, political manipulation, and the 
flowering of early monasticism in the Egyptian 
desert. Nonetheless, the period remained largely 
peopled with a dizzying cast of rulers and usurpers, 
frequently in alliances and misalliances generated 
by the turmoil and change of repeated Germanic 
invasions. All of these historical characters and 
events, moreover, had for a backdrop the growing 
desperation of the West, as wealth moved to the 
East and the empire split into halves. 

In some ways, researching the later period posed 
the same challenges as researching women of the 
Hellenistic era. As in the Hellenistic period, the 
later Roman Empire was a period of politically 
powerful women who lived complicated lives in 
which historical fact sometimes far exceeded the 
imagination of fiction. The two periods also shared 
a sense of possibility, change, and instability. After 

the death of Alexander the Great, Greek rulers 
spread far and wide. The eastern Mediterranean 
developed multiple centers of power, and, as in the 
later Roman Empire, the hegemonic imperative 
became more cultural than political. In the earlier 
period, hegemony followed the spread of Greek 
culture, which, in the later Roman Empire, was 
supplanted by Christianity grafted on a pervasive 
pagan Neoplatonism. 

The periods also shared a major lack: Neither 
had a contemporaneous narrator whose work 
could shape an understanding of the era as com- 
pelling as those by Thucydides and Tacitus or 
as readable as Livy For both periods, we found 
ourselves stitching together women's lives from 
disparate, sometimes hostile, often little-known 
sources. In the later Roman period, in contrast 
with the earlier, the sources were more often than 
not hagiographic. Buried in Christian pietistic 
writings, however, were Greco-Roman women 
whose lives had been shaped by the opportunities 
and limitations of society. Like a puzzle whose 
full picture only becomes visible when enough of 
the pieces are already in place, we slowly discov- 
ered the extraordinary political, social, economic, 
and psychological roles these women played in the 
development of Christianity and the evolution of 
the Roman state. The Augustae of the later Roman 
Empire were as numerous, devious, politically 
astute, smart, and aggressive as their counterparts 
of centuries ago, including the 1 5 women named 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

Cleopatra of Hellenistic Egypt. Like their more 
ancient sisters, these late Roman women were also 

Educated, and with a degree of legal and psy- 
chological independence probably not seen again 
until the 19th century, they had benefited from 
centuries of gradual emancipation. The transfor- 
mation in the Greco-Roman world over the course 
of centuries had been accompanied first by the 
spread of Greek culture and later by Roman law. 
From the early third century c.e. onward, Roman 
citizenship was widespread. Also by the third cen- 
tury, women's legal and economic independence 
protected by Roman law were commonplace. One 
of the unintended consequences resulting from the 
spread of Christianity within the context of a soci- 
ety organized under Roman law and custom was 
the extraordinary women of the late empire. 

It did not take us very long to settle into a 
familiar working pattern and again to let ancient 
women dominate our daily lives and our social 
conversation. As with the writing of the first edi- 
tion, it became a rule at dinner that neither of us 
could discuss the women whose biographies we 
were currently writing. Not only could we bore 
everyone with the minutiae of the research, but we 
often didn't agree. We had many provocative con- 
versations that excluded everyone present except 
the two of us. Some of the discussions became so 
heated that one or another of us stormed out of the 
room and finished dinner from leftovers. 

Although our differences tended to disappear 
as we actually put words to paper, the heated dis- 
cussions reflected changes in scholarship, events in 
the larger world, and, we hope, a maturing of our 
own thinking. Scholarship about women and about 
the late empire has taken giant steps since the first 
edition. The contextualizing of women's lives to 
augment scarce sources with circumstantial prob- 
abilities has become a biographical genre. So, too, 
has thinking about the interpretation of the sources 
in light of contemporary times. Power, politics, reli- 
gion, and gender have clothed the historical explo- 
ration of Greco-Roman women with modern dress. 

Fortunately, we found that our earlier decisions 
about writing the women's biographies were still 

valid. All the biographies begin with a heading that 
provides the subject's name, birth and death dates 
(or where that information is unknown, the cen- 
tury in which she lived), and the place(s) in which 
she lived. We have tried to begin each biography by 
characterizing briefly what the subject did and, in 
many cases, to imagine from her perspective the sit- 
uation presented by the (invariably) male sources. 
We have also augmented the general paucity of 
information about a specific life with contextual 
information. Sometimes we created a situational 
biography that rests on probabilities, but without 
exceeding the boundaries of the sources or the 
interpretations offered by modern scholars. 

Following each biography we have provided the 
reader with the sources of our information, both 
ancient and modern. The Mediterranean may have 
been the mare nostrum for the centuries of Greco- 
Roman life, but the boundaries of the city-states 
and the Roman Empire underwent many changes. 
This book includes maps to orient the reader and a 
general bibliography to facilitate understanding of 
the changing ancient world. There is also an index 
of the women profiled. Since over the roughly 
1,000 years covered by A to Z of Ancient Greek and 
Roman Women, Revised Edition, half the population 
was female, the more than 500 women included 
can only be considered representative of the mil- 
lions who have been left out. These are the women 
for whom enough significant literary information 
survives to suggest the course of their lives. 

As with the first edition, this new and expanded 
revision would have been impossible without help. 
Everyone of our friends contributed. Frances Col- 
lin, our literary agent, was responsible for our 
working with Facts On File. William Zeisel, our 
friend, colleague, and Marjories partner in the 
consulting firm of QED Associates LLC, was at 
our side throughout the process of research and 
writing, and Ronald Cluett, a historian of the 
later Roman Empire, was a loyal supporter, reader, 
and commentator. We also wish to thank Elena 
Stolyarik, Robert Hoge, and Rick Schonke at the 
American Numismatic Society in New York City 
for their help and patience in finding the coins 
with images of the women included in this book. 



In contrast with the first edition, when we did than functional support. They kept us focused on 
most of our research at the Library of Congress the future generations of students who we hope 
in Washington, D.C., this time we did a large will discover an interest in women of the Greco- 
part of the research on the Web. We could not Roman world, 
have worked as efficiently and comfortably with 

the newly available electronic tools if our chil- — Marjorie Lightman and Benjamin Lightman 

dren had not been readily available for consulta- Washington, D.C. 

tion and advice. However, they provided more March 2007 




When the first edition of this book was published 
in 2000, it was notable for identifying women's 
presence in every aspect of public life: not just a 
few women, or even only elite women, but women 
across the spectrum of ancient society from the 
Hellenic period through the high Roman Empire. 
The biographies confirmed, as scholars had often 
noted, that the Greco-Roman world was indeed 
gender segregated, but with women-only institu- 
tions as well as institutions that excluded women. 
Alongside the male-only Roman Senate were the 
Vestal Virgins and the sorority of the Bona Dea. 

Along with gender segregation, the biographies 
also suggested that there was a gender balancing 
in which formal and informal, public and private 
spheres of segregated power worked in tandem to 
assure the needs of the society. As circumstances 
demanded, gender distinctions disappeared, and 
women took their place in all of the society's essential 
institutions. In the ancient city-state, with its finite 
resources and population, everyone was important, 
especially if the community supported an army of 
men who went to war and did not contribute pro- 
ductive labor, often during the critical growing sea- 
son. Of necessity, in ancient life there was de facto a 
wider diffusion of power that included women than 
was incorporated into law or expressed in literature. 

A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women, 
Revised Edition, includes the formidable pagan 
and Christian women of the Roman Empire in 

the fourth through sixth centuries c.e. It extends 
through the reign of Theodora, who was the last 
Augusta to hold sway over an empire that stretched 
from Rome to Constantinople and Alexandria to 
Carthage. The biographies in this revision inform, 
enlarge, and, in some cases, alter the interpretation 
of Greco-Roman women presented in the previ- 
ous edition. The new biographies emphasize the 
spaces between literature, law, custom, and the 
circumstances, personalities, and experiences that 
shaped the lives of individual women. They include 
tumultuous periods of time when the gap between 
socially affirmed expectations of women's behavior 
and the lives many women lived appears quite wide 
and biographies from other times when there is a 
greater congruence. 

Not surprisingly, war, natural disasters, political 
instability, economic crisis, and the character of a 
woman's father, son, or husband were instrumen- 
tal in shaping the possibilities of a woman's life. 
However, just as important was the dominating 
power of the region. Hellenic, Hellenistic, Roman, 
and Greco-Roman society offered women differ- 
ent kinds of opportunities and placed them under 
different limitations. Distinctive codes of law, a 
wide variety of sacrosanct social traditions, and the 
transformative religious experience of early Chris- 
tianity continually reformulated the ways in which 
women understood themselves, their responsibili- 
ties, and their obligations over the course of the 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

The Roman Empire 

Roman rule provided a political overlay that car- 
ried with it a unifying patina of Greco-Roman 
life, law, and culture. Greco-Roman culture, which 
was a dynamic mix of Hellenistic traditions and 
ideas with the institutions and statutory law of 
the Latin-speaking Roman conquerors, governed 
for six centuries — more than half the millennium 
covered by this edition. Greek culture, however, 
long preceded Roman rule, as the biographies of 
women from the coast of Asia Minor, the Aegean 
Islands, and mainland Greece amply demonstrate. 
Greek culture followed Alexander the Great, his 
generals, and the extraordinary women around 
them throughout the eastern half of the Mediterra- 
nean in the fourth century b.c.e. After Alexanders 
death, Egypt fell to Greek domination. The Greek 
women who ruled and coruled through the Helle- 
nistic period made Egypt a competing power with 
Rome for control of the Mediterranean until the 
end of the last century b.c.e. 

By the second century b.c.e., Rome controlled 
the western Mediterranean and, at the end of the 
first century b.c.e., after civil wars and a final con- 
frontation with Cleopatra VII in Egypt, the entire 
region. The Roman civil wars opened opportunities 
for women, and the first two centuries of the empire 
were a "golden age" for Greco-Roman women, espe- 
cially those from the propertied classes, who attained 
a heretofore unknown degree of personal autonomy. 
Women's increased personal autonomy and eco- 
nomic presence continued to expand, even during 
the economic chaos that followed and despite the 
repeated efforts of imperial reform. As imperial rule 
changed into autocratic power, women began to 
assume the trappings of imperial authority. 

The new biographies focus on the transforma- 
tive centuries in which the empire was beset with 
Germanic invasions and declining productivity and 
population, especially in the West and North Africa. 
The biographies reveal the degree to which scarcity 
dominated ancient life. Neither food, labor, or any 
other necessary goods of consumption had a large 
enough surplus for society to ever rest secure about 
its basic needs. The inefficiencies of production 
and distribution, especially in agriculture, left the 

cities, even at the height of imperial Rome, always 
vulnerable to shortages. The dependence on slave 
labor, moreover, further increased the inefficiency 
in production. Not only was slave labor expensive 
to maintain, but the threat of uprisings among 
the enslaved further diverted limited resources. 
The combination of economic inefficiencies and a 
slave culture touched relationships from marriage 
to inheritance and influenced women's economic 
independence and political aspirations. 

Scarcity also afflicted the invading German 
tribes, who sometimes needed grain more than 
gold. No amount of foraging could sufficiently feed 
the traveling populations and cities could often buy 
off the threat of siege with food. However, nei- 
ther Italy nor Greece produced a regular surplus 
of food. Italy was not fully self-sufficient in grain 
after the second century b.c.e. The breadbaskets 
of the ancient world were North Africa and Egypt, 
which, after having centuries of absentee landlords, 
rapacious administrators, and natural disasters, were 
also no longer able to feed the empire by the fifth 
century c.e. Augustine, who was bishop of Hippo, 
near Carthage, lamented the dimension and con- 
sequence of change in North African agriculture. 
Where once there had been abundance there was 
only subsistence farming, and the mighty monu- 
ments of Roman urban life, the baths, the roads, the 
libraries, and the temples, were falling into decay. 
Even books were no longer easily accessible. 

The disruptive presence of large numbers of poor 
people became a new reality of city life as land col- 
lected in the hands of the elite. The ideal of the 
independent citizen farmer became an increasingly 
distant mirage, while the urban poor multiplied and 
landed estates grew larger, embracing whole villages 
of free, freed, and enslaved workers. By the fifth and 
sixth centuries, chronic depopulation compounded 
by repeated invasions resulted in the forced bonding 
of laborers to the land. Augustine's correspondence 
with the younger Melania and her mother, Albina, 
as well as the wealthy poet, Proba, illustrates the 
vast gulf between rich and poor, especially in the 
countryside. It also documents the existence of large 
numbers of women landholders, who were among 
the wealthiest Romans of the time. 




Christianity was for women, perhaps far more 
than for men, a religion accompanied by social 
revolution. In A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman 
Women, Revised Edition, the biographies of women 
who were early converts to Christianity suggest the 
trajectory of their spiritual journeys, their role in 
Christianizing the senatorial classes and in provid- 
ing a financial base for the emerging episcopate. 
Above all, however, the new biographies detail 
the relationship between being Greco-Roman 
and becoming Christian. The choices women 
made rested on the gender expectations of the 
Greco-Roman society that nurtured them and the 
increasing autonomy allowed them. The Chris- 
tian religious transformation they experienced led 
to a new kind of individual and personal quest 
that often proved to be incompatible with the 
historical, gendered, and corporate culture of the 
pagan world. Some of the biographies describe 
women's close relationships with eminent men 
of the church. Bishops, priests, and monks, who 
were often financially dependent on the largesse 
of the wealthy, found their most likely benefactors 
and friends among celibate and ascetically inclined 
women. Together, they shared a spiritual and intel- 
lectual search for salvation. Many wound up living 
side-by-side in communal houses and monasteries, 
which the women often had built and endowed. 

At the opening of the third century, the Chris- 
tian woman Perpetua was martyred in Carthage. 
Her prison journal is among the earliest and most 
extensive writing extant by a Christian or pagan 
woman. In her ecstatic and personal passion she 
had visions and spoke in tongues. She personified 
the quest of individual women who, during the 
subsequent centuries, were attracted to celibacy 
and an ascetic lifestyle. The pleas of her father and 
love for her nursing child could not deter her from 
a willing death. She had turned from her fam- 
ily defined by blood to her new family of fellow 
Christians joined in their search for a Christian 

The individuality of the Christian pursuit of 
grace affected the family, which, along with land, 
were the twin pillars of ancient stability. Pagan 

Greco-Roman society construed the responsibili- 
ties and obligations of the landed family to extend 
beyond the nuclear core to include a host of depen- 
dents, from poorer relatives to slaves, freed slaves, 
and their respective kin across the generations. 
Insofar as wealth carried inherited obligations and 
responsibilities for the larger group, family wealth 
had a corporate character. 

Marriage in propertied families was a functional 
arrangement intended to produce a new generation 
and bring in new wealth. Elite marriage was monog- 
amous and divorce was possible. By definition, mar- 
riage was a contract that defined property rights and 
their intergenerational transfer; companionship, 
caring, and passion were not part of the contract or 
even necessary conditions for a successful marriage. 
There was no social role for a never-married woman 
of a landed family, and at all times and in all places 
women from propertied families not only married 
but were expected to bear children, except for the 
rare woman who became a full-time priestess or 
spent 30 years as a Vestal Virgin. 

Women, however, were not necessarily power- 
less pawns in the marriage market. Depending on 
their age, their wealth, and their political posi- 
tion, they could and did bargain on their own 
behalf. While marital negotiations would seem a 
familiar part of history among the imperial family 
or the very rich, less familiar is the routine pres- 
ence of complicated betrothal agreements among 
the less powerful or wealthy. Cicero's letters to 
Atticus, who was a friend and facilitator dur- 
ing Cicero's divorce from his wife, Terentia, pro- 
vided an unusually intimate glimpse of divorce 
in accord with the conditions of a betrothal con- 
tract agreed upon more than 20 years earlier. The 
letters offer further insight into the contractual 
discussions for Cicero's second marriage, to a far 
younger woman whose dowry he sorely needed. 
No less interesting are the letters that delineated 
the limits of his authority over his daughter Tul- 
lia and her choice of partners, or the conditions 
of the betrothal, especially when he, like many 
Greco-Roman men, was in a distant place of the 
empire while his wife and agent attended family 
affairs at home. 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

The innumerable papyri fragments of marriage 
contracts affirm the hard negotiations that charac- 
terized what each partner contributed to the mar- 
riage and expected to take back in case of divorce. 
By and large, however, under Greek as well as 
Roman law, noncitizens and the poor had either 
no right, or only a limited right, for a contractual 
marital relationship. Nor was a contract necessary. 
Epitaphs across the Mediterranean provide exten- 
sive evidence of long and loving noncontractual 
marriages. These relationships also evidence pride 
in women's virtues no different from those cel- 
ebrated among the elite. Marital relationships that 
lasted unto death were lauded, and poor as well as 
rich women were everywhere praised for modesty, 
fidelity, silence, and fecundity. 

However democratic and widespread the virtues 
of womanhood, it was always better to be a rich 
woman than a poor man and, better still, a very 
rich woman. Simply said, for the ancients wealth 
was evidence of goodness. It isn't that the ancient 
world was the epitome of market capitalism; rather 
wealth was evidence of good standing with the 
gods, whose favor everyone sought. Until the rise 
of Christianity, preordained fate governed life, and 
there was neither escape nor forgiveness. The gods 
were not omniscient beings endowed with mercy 
of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but rather the 
uncaring elemental powers of nature — the earth, 
water, sky, and air. Put another way, the gods did 
not exercise control over the forces of nature; they 
were the forces of nature. When the poets spoke of 
Mars in the arms of Venus they were not speaking 
metaphorically about love taming war but quite lit- 
erally about Mars, the god of war who was war, and 
Venus, both love and the goddess of love. 

For the most part, the rich and the poor, those 
with a marriage contract and those who simply 
lived together as husband and wife, all regarded 
children as a gift of the gods. Without a clear 
vision of an afterlife, the security of the living was 
best assured by caring for ancestors. Children were 
their parents' assurance of proper rites for the dead. 
They could make the dead rest in peace and sustain 
the honor of the family in life. Children were a 
woman's crowning glory, and for a woman who 

was not an ascetically inclined Christian, fertility 
always was the central mystery of ancient life. 

Women's ability to bear children, however, was 
an uncertain gift of the gods and a mixed blessing. 
The reality of medicine and medical knowledge left 
pregnancy, childbirth, and its aftermath fraught 
with danger. In the early empire, the state's efforts 
to encourage families recognized women who bore 
three children with full and independent control 
over their property. It was a powerful prod that 
over time became a status obtainable by purchase. 
In the centuries of peaceful empire, the death rate 
for women in childbirth was possibly higher than 
that of soldiers in battle, and the purchase of inde- 
pendent control over property a safer road to a 
preeminent symbol of status. 

Christianity changed the world for women. 
Asceticism and monasticism held a particular 
appeal. Women's engagement with the individual, 
ecstatic, and spiritual side of Christianity made 
them among the first adopters of the new asceti- 
cism that began to sweep the Christian world in 
the fourth century. From Syncletica in Egypt to 
Macrina in Asia Minor, women sought to free 
themselves from the burdens of secular life in 
pursuit of a union with God. They founded com- 
munal houses for women who never married and 
for widows who refused to remarry, used their 
wealth to establish the beginnings of Christian 
public charitable services, and developed friend- 
ships with each other and with male clerics that 
would have been unlikely in the differently sexual- 
ized pagan world. 

Christianity offered women their first opportu- 
nity to live socially sanctioned lives outside Greco- 
Roman gendered roles. For poor women, celibacy 
offered a freedom from sexual abuse that was as 
common on the streets as water from the fountains 
of Rome, and for the slave woman, the dream of a 
better life after death. It also posed a revolutionary 
threat to the elite. The chronic underpopulation 
for which women were blamed and imperial policy 
vainly sought to reverse was heightened by the 
emergence of an ascetic, celibate lifestyle. Women 
celibates not only countered imperial efforts to 
increase families, but also roiled secular politics, 



divided families, and engaged women in the public 
life of the empire as never before. 

Pagans viewed Christian women who chose celi- 
bacy and either gave away their wealth or used it to 
enhance the church as willfully squandering precious 
corporate assets that rightfully belonged to the fam- 
ily. Well into the fifth and sixth centuries, mixed 
families of Christians and pagans were still not 
unusual. Conflicts within the family over a woman's 
use of personal wealth are a recurring motif in the 
biographies of ascetic women who corresponded 
with Jerome, the noted churchman. The biographies 
of women like the elder Melania reveal the kind of 
lengthy negotiations and arrangements within prop- 
ertied families that accompanied a woman's decision 
to pursue an ascetic lifestyle. 

Women made different decisions about the 
style of their asceticism. Some women, like Syn- 
cletica, simply gave away their wealth and lived as a 
recluse in the Egyptian desert; others, like Melania, 
Paula, the Augusta Eudoxia, Olympias, and Egeria, 
followed a different path. They settled a portion 
of their wealth on relatives who disagreed with 
their calling. This was especially evident among 
the women in Rome, who also sought to avoid 
court-mandated settlements or the appointment of 
trustees. In further contrast with Syncletica, these 
women actively engaged in international debates 
about the nature of Christ and the position of Mary. 
Most important, however, they kept under their 
control a sufficient portion of their wealth to found 
monasteries and travel widely and often, including 
trips to Palestine. With surprising frequency, they 
also supported male religious colleagues whose let- 
ters have survived to tell us about them. 

The wealthy women who became active Chris- 
tians before the Council of Chalcedon in 45 1 c.e. 
joined a heterodox church in which doctrinal con- 
troversy was ongoing. With the Chalcedon compro- 
mise, orthodoxy was defined, but not everywhere 
accepted. The Eastern part of the empire, in particu- 
lar, remained heavily Monophysite and supported 
the single and divine nature of Christ. Imperial 
women were active supporters of the debates over 
the nature of Christ, and Theodora was in large part 
responsible for the establishment of a Monophysite 

episcopate that led to the final schism with the 
West. No less controversial was the role of Mary. 
Her identity as the Mother of God, in contrast to 
mother of the human Christ child, opened the way 
for women to claim their place in the church. It 
erased the "sin" of Eve and was a political position 
jealously guarded by the imperial women, especially 
Pulcheria, who rested her imperial authority on her 
celibacy and devotion to Mary. 

Ancient Sources 

In A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women, 
Revised Edition, unlike a monograph about a single 
woman or a group portrait of women during a par- 
ticular period and place, the entries range across 
the sweep of Greek and Roman history. This inclu- 
siveness of time and space emphasizes the unend- 
ing cycles of war, the repeated political uprisings, 
the democracy of natural disaster, as well as the rel- 
atively short intervals of peace and prosperity. The 
more than 500 biographies of women included 
in this book also reveal that networks among elite 
women and between women and men wove a 
web of relationships through society's public and 
private affairs. The biographies make clear that 
affairs of state moved in lockstep with the affairs of 
the family and religion and together they shaped a 
social order that was hierarchical in status, wealth, 
and power, but also gender inclusive. 

This edition follows the first edition and draws 
on information about women from the extant 
Greek and Latin literature. Some of the ancient 
authors are more familiar to modern readers than 
others: the histories of Herodotus; the letters, 
speeches, and essays of Cicero; the multivolume 
history of Rome by Livy; the sophisticated com- 
mentary of Tacitus; the multitudinous works of 
Plutarch; and the letters of the younger Pliny. 
Less-familiar works include the histories written by 
Polyibus, Sallust, and Dio Cassius, and the women 
described by Athenaeus or the Greco-Roman 
women included by Josephus in his history of the 
Jews. This expanded edition also includes church 
historians like Eusebius, some of the work by Ter- 
tullian, Sozomen, Ambrose, and the ecclesiastical 
history of Socrates. Also included is information 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

from Gregory of Nyssa, who wrote about his sis- 
ter Macrina, and the churchmen who maintained 
extensive correspondences with women, such as 
John Chryostom with Olympias, Augustine with 
a number of women, and, above all, Jerome who 
maintained decades-long correspondences with 
women in the West and East. 

About some centuries and many places we have 
no literary information. What we have, however, 
reinforces the sense of a shared body of stories 
and historical references to places, events, customs, 
and people that formed a continuous tradition 
over a very long period of time. Ancient authors, 
some of whom wrote hundreds of years after the 
events they narrated, tantalize the modern reader 
with allusions that assume familiarity with people 
and events, especially women to whom they may 
briefly refer. The inference that a woman may have 
been well known to her contemporaries and far 
less incidental to the narrated events than would 
appear highlights both the frustration of limited 
information and the danger of unexamined mod- 
ern assumptions and easy generalizations. 

The entries in the expanded edition include rich 
women, poor women, and those in between. Some 
were illiterate and many were well educated. Some 
traveled; others never left home. Some were slaves. 
Others owned slaves, male and female. Everyone 
faced the immediacy of death from violence, acci- 
dent, or infection. The classes of society that experi- 
enced the greatest insecurities of life in the ancient 
world, however, are also those who have left the 
least-informative written records. In the literature, 
even in the best-informed periods, women from 
nonelite backgrounds appear most often when they 
amassed wealth and influenced men and events. 
The information about these women rarely includes 
the identity of their blood kin, although they may 
claim an elite non-Greco-Roman parentage. On 
occasion there may be mention of a mother's name 
or a city of origin, but the woman is far more likely 
to be described by her physical charms and her rela- 
tionships with important men. 

In contrast with the literary sources, thousands 
of epitaphs and donations to temples and other 
religious sites document the names of slaves and 

freedmen and women. They can also be identified 
in business contracts and court cases, as well as in 
fragments of personal correspondence that have 
been found among the papyri, remains from the 
ancient garbage heaps in the sands of Egypt. This 
book, however, uses only literary sources since with 
rare exception the inscriptions are fragmentary and 
lack the coherence of the traditional literature. 

The surviving literature not only reflects the 
viewpoint of men, and elite men at that, but also 
of the victor in the rise and fall of ancient city- 
states and empires. Homer, whose works were 
the literary fountainhead of the Greeks, wrote the 
story of the Greek victory over Troy. Virgil, writing 
in the first century c.e. under Augustus, provided 
a Latin extension of the Trojan warriors to account 
for the glory of imperial Rome. Livy's history of 
Rome, only parts of which survive, was a celebra- 
tion of Augustus's new empire. The gloss of the 
victor becomes even more evident with the advent 
of Christian histories. The church history of Euse- 
bius, the letters of Jerome, the writings of Gregory 
of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Augustine were 
Christocentric at a time when Neoplatonism still 
dominated Greco-Roman culture. 

The surviving literature has been estimated as 
about one-tenth of the literature that was generally 
available in the fourth through sixth centuries. In 
addition to literature, only a fraction of the records 
from the state bureaucracy, ranging from tax receipts 
to correspondence, such as the letters between the 
younger Pliny and the emperor Trajan, still exist. 
Also lost has been much of the record-keeping from 
a millennium of trans-Mediterranean business that 
involved corporate entities as well as individual mer- 
chants. Fortunately, the garbage heaps of Egypt have 
provided contracts for marriages and wills from at 
least one place in the empire. 

Despite ample evidence in the surviving lit- 
erature written by men that elite women were as 
likely to be as literate as men, especially from the 
Hellenistic period onward, with the exception of 
some poetry by Sappho and a young Latin poet 
Sulpicia, no pagan literature written by women 
has survived. In the early Christian literature, the 
Passion of Perpetua written at the opening of the 



third century C.E., the sayings of Syncletica, and 
the poetry by the Augusta Eudocia and Proba in 
the fifth century c.e. make an only slightly less 
scanty collection. More available are letters written 
to women by men which reference the women's 
part of the correspondence. In the pre-Chris- 
tian literature of the first century b.c.e., Cicero 
had a voluminous correspondence that included 
women. Among Christians, Jerome, Chrysostom, 
Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and numerous men 
who were bishops of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, 
Constantinople, Tyre, and Carthage had similarly 
lengthy correspondences with Christian women. 

The ancient world's diverse literature was more 
readily available than one would expect. In every 
city or ancient town there were places where the 
illiterate could find writers for their personal and 
business needs. There were also scriptoria, often 
in the household of wealthy people with literary 
pretensions, in which the business of publishing 
was carried out with copyists preparing books for 
distribution and sale. The buying and selling of 
literary papyrus rolls was widespread. Augustine 
lamented the decline in his regular supply of new 
"books" from Rome as the Germanic invasions 
increasingly strangled business in the early fifth 
century. The great library in Alexandria, which 
prided itself on acquiring a copy of every new 
book published, had 800,000 papyrus rolls in its 
collection before it burned in the sixth century c.e. 
Seven libraries dotted the city of Rome, which was 
a tribute to its literate population and leadership 
of the empire. Ancient public and private libraries 
collected poetry, plays, history, philosophy, letters, 
journals, travels, medicine, mathematics, astrology, 
and astronomy. Over the centuries, however, wars, 
natural disasters, and outbreaks of religious fanati- 
cism destroyed them. The monumental arches that 
mark the entrance to the ancient libraries of Per- 
gamum and Ephesus, near the coast of modern 
Turkey, suggest the richness of a lost literature. 

Since the publication of the first edition of this 
book, a new poem by Sappho has been uncovered, 
and while it provides no startling information, it 
adds to the body of literature by pagan women. 
More may appear in the future, especially women's 

correspondence. It is the absence of women's pri- 
vate correspondence that perhaps most hinders 
writing the biographies of women. The letters that 
John Chrysostom, the exiled bishop of Constanti- 
nople, wrote Olympias after she had left her life in 
the capital to wander in Asia Minor beg for the let- 
ters she wrote him. How can we definitively know 
whether or not Macrina was the intellectual muse 
her brother, Gregory of Nyssa, claimed, if we have 
none of her letters to him? 

This new edition includes more than 500 
women. While this is not all the women, or even 
most of the women we know about from the 
Greco-Roman world, it is most of the women 
who appear in literature and about whom we have 
something meaningful to say. Evenly distributed 
over time, 500 women would be about 40 women 
per century. Few would argue the foolhardiness of 
a general discussion of Western women in the 19th 
or 20th centuries on the basis of 40 per century. 
As it happens, ancient sources about women are 
not equally distributed across time or geography. 
Information about women tends to cluster. Taci- 
tus, for example, focused on the Julio-Claudian 
women in the first century c.e. This period was 
also the high point of Latin poetry, in which Ovid 
addressed women and love and Horace satirized 
the life of the upper classes. The historians Sueton- 
ius and Livy contribute further information about 
this period. Similarly, women in the late republic 
and the civil war years were a part of Cicero's volu- 
minous correspondence, the subjects of the first 
generation of Latin love poets like Catullus, and 
were also reported on by Livy and Suetonius. 

Modern Scholarship 

The challenge to modern scholarship has been not 
only to understand the lives of ancient women 
through the lens of our own times, but also to 
understand the ancients within their times. Since 
the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when mod- 
ern scholarship about antiquity began, the task has 
been complicated by the gendered character of our 
own society, on one hand, and the ancients' efforts 
to extract moral instruction from history, on the 
other hand. In consequence, nuanced discussions 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

about gender, especially about women, have rarely 
appeared. More often the modern discussion of 
ancient works has been about what women ought 
to be and do and how they have conformed to 
or deviated from prescribed behavior. Until quite 
recently, even the discussion of prescribed behavior 
has been rather two-dimensional. Until the last 
decades, a sense that flesh-and-blood women, who 
lived through often-difficult times and made pain- 
ful decisions, were a major part of antiquity has 
remained largely absent from the scholarship. The 
general lack of examination of women has been 
attributed to an absence of information. Ancient 
history has always suffered from insufficient or 
incomplete information. In the case of women, 
the very real lacunae have been accepted as reason 
enough to largely ignore them. As the discipline of 
women's history has matured, however, the focus 
on women has suggested new approaches to the 
traditional literature and new insights. 

Intergenerational time lines that move families 
from father to son, for example, ignore the impor- 
tance of alliances between mothers and daughters, 
both of whom could be married women bearing 
children at the same time. The mother and grown 
daughter alliance, which was possibly ancient 
women's most powerful emotional and frequent 
political bond, linked families and the next genera- 
tion of children. Cross-generational alliances could 
include sisters, cousins, and extended kin to fur- 
ther confuse neat male-based generational descent. 
Moreover, through death and divorce, women and 
men often married more than once. Women, how- 
ever, tended to marry men closer to their own 
age as they grew older, gaining independence over 
wealth and bargaining power within their marriage 
even as their multiple marriages also added other 
complications to male-centered generational lines. 

Previously neglected literature that was consid- 
ered less interesting, less reliable, and less impor- 
tant by earlier generations has proved to include 
useful references to lives women led. Scholars 
have begun to look more closely at the purpose- 
ful portrayal of women in the moral instruction 
through historical example that characterized the 
works of Greco-Roman historians and led to their 

often two-dimensional female portraits. They have 
begun the exploration of powerful female cliques 
bound into networks of relationships affirmed by 
kinship, friendship, religious beliefs, and politi- 
cal goals. Often multigenerational and sometimes 
in opposing political camps, the cliques could be 
deadly enemies of one another, no less violent than 
the men around them, and often using the men 
around them as public ciphers for political power. 
In the Hellenistic and imperial periods, the group- 
ings of women who surrounded the various claim- 
ants to the throne vied for power and wealth that 
could award them control over a weak emperor or 
landed estates so large as to equal a semiautono- 
mous satrapy. 

Scholars have also begun to reexamine ancient 
speeches to juries, whose intent to defame and 
persuade sometimes only confirmed contemporary 
prejudice. There are also polemical tracts written 
and circulated for political ends. These include cel- 
ebrations of patronage as well as vitriolic attacks, 
both of which suggest that the worthiness of 
women subjects had some relationship with their 
power. Finally, the early Christian theologians had 
a number of women friends. The relationships 
between these men and women, which possibly 
would have been less likely among pagans, speak 
to the change of values for women introduced with 
Christianity and also for women's use of the new 

An important aspect of modern scholarship has 
been to develop authoritative texts and to assess the 
relative authenticity of information from ancient 
written sources. Not all ancient authors have been 
accorded equal status. The scholarship has distin- 
guished between what amounts to ancient his- 
torical gossip, repeated by ancient authors often 
hundreds of years after the event, from reliable 
observation and commentary. At the extremes, few 
would confuse Thucydides' work about the war 
between Athens and Sparta with Procopius's vit- 
riolic attack on the Augusta Theodora. At least 
in part, however, praise of Thucydides has rested 
on his subject matter. He, and his most highly 
regarded fellow ancient commentators, addressed 
the triad of public honor, wealth, and position that 



formed the playing field of ancient elite male life. 
The focus on men, on war, and on politics also 
framed a vision of ancient life that most comfort- 
ably agreed with the European imagination of ear- 
lier centuries about what was important to know 
about the Greeks and Romans. 

In no small part, the ancient men and values 
lauded affirmed the political and gender divisions 
of European society during the centuries when 
modern scholarship came into being and elevated 
the study of Greece and Rome to define the mod- 
ern, educated man. However familiar the ancient 
male values appeared to Europeans, it was none- 
theless a narrow vision that equated history with 
the political evolution of the senate, the assembly, 
and the Areopagus, or in modern terms, Congress 
and Parliament, and also elevated great men to 
the status of historical inevitability. Well into the 
1960s, scholarship posed little challenge to the 
ancients' statements, particularly about women. 
It accepted unexamined the ancient assessment 
of women as the less important background of 
a warrior culture. Praise of virtuous women was 
reiterated and women's immorality and decadence 
accepted as a causative factor for the failure of 
public institutions and the breakdown of the fam- 
ily. Impossibly virtuous, and equally impossibly 
infamous, ancient women continued to dot the 
scholarly literature and to affirm male virtue or act 
as the harbingers of dire events to come. 

The 21st century, however, is in some ways 
more like the ancient world than were the late 
18th through 19th centuries when modern Greco- 
Roman scholarship began to assume its privileged 
position among the educated. It is also critically 
different. As in the ancient world, we have come 
to accept a broad sexual palette that includes serial 
marriage, live-in and live-out relationships of all 
kinds, and many variations of short-term liaisons. A 
quick glance at any current magazine demonstrates 
that in the 21st century a woman can be accepted 
in the "best" society unashamedly unmarried, preg- 
nant, and with a string of lovers to her credit. So, 
too, the ancients had a broad sexual palette. 

In the West, this broad sexual palette is situated 
within a nation's civil code of law. In the third 

century c.e., the emperor Caracalla declared that, 
with minor exceptions, all people living under 
Roman rule were Roman citizens. For the first 
time in history, there was a uniform civil code in 
which the same family and personal law defined 
women's status across the Mediterranean. Between 
the third and sixth centuries, the statutory law 
was expanded, modified, and reinterpreted. The 
emperor Justinian ordered a review and synthesis 
of the subsequent centuries of conflicting edicts, 
laws, and decisions. Theodora played a part in the 
elimination of cross-class prohibitions on contrac- 
tual marriage, made prostitution illegal in Con- 
stantinople, and limited the rights of slave-owners 
and employers to force women to perform in the 
theater. The sixth-century compilation affirmed 
that marriage was a monogamous and consensual 
contract, albeit a special contract. As with every 
contract it incorporated the conditions of its own 
dissolution, not unlike contemporary prenuptial 
agreements. Marriage without a formal contract 
was considered equally binding under the law 
and socially acceptable. In a manner reminiscent 
of present-day circumstances, people who lived 
together and presented themselves as a couple were 
regarded as such, with all the complicated claims 
on joint property if they separated. 

The Greco-Roman world, like the contempo- 
rary one, may have had both a multiplicity of 
legitimate sexual relationships and, after the third 
century, a uniform code of civil law that gov- 
erned marriage. In the ancient world, however, 
class always trumped law. The ancients categorized 
women by birth, wealth, and family affiliation. At 
all times and in all places, Greco-Roman society 
was a slave culture and the sexual behavior of slaves 
belonged to property law. Women slaves could 
be used by their owners or by anyone who had 
the owner's permission, for any sexual purpose. 
Sex with a slave woman had no legal or moral 
consequences for the man, providing it was in 
accord with property law. Children born to slave 
women increased the numbers of slaves a man 
owned and enhanced his capital worth. Poor free 
or freedwomen, on the other hand, probably lived 
with the perpetual threat of sexual violence, since 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

men often failed to distinguish the exact status of a 
woman especially when in search of sex. Without 
wealth or a man to protect them, they may have 
well suffered more than slaves. 

Except when historians like Livy sought to make 
a moral point of civic virtue and used the behavior 
of a slave or freedwoman as the object of their 
case, it was elite women who have appeared in this 
male-dominated history. It was with elite women 
that men generally conspired in the endless cycles 
of political intrigue that engaged every generation. 
When, however, men were charged with treason, 
their elite women coconspirators were more often 
than not charged with the sexual crime of adultery. 
For the ancients, there appears an equation between 
an elite woman's sexual behavior and treason to 
the state. Women's adultery was neither a property 
violation as with slaves, nor a violation of personal 
male honor. Adultery among elite married women 
was a dangerous public act that challenged power 
and threatened the stability of the state. 


Perspective is possibly the foremost issue in shaping 
ancient biographical information about a woman 
into a narrative that speaks to modern audiences. 
Perspective faces the challenge of information from 
ancient sources that were overwhelmingly male 
and for whom the questions of the contemporary 
world were unknown. In A to Z of Ancient Greek 
and Roman Women, Revised Edition, an effort has 
been made to view events, people, and circum- 
stances from the perspective of the woman who is 
the subject of the biography. In a situation where 
a group of women have participated in the same 
historical events, each biography attempts to shift 
into the unique perspective of the woman subject. 
The effort to speak through the eyes of the 
woman subject about events in her life from frag- 
mentary sources and at a moment in time she could 
not have imagined asks the reader to turn an under- 
standing of the past almost on its head. The biog- 
raphies start with the woman in the story and not 
with the men around her. The biographies describe 
what she did and seek to portray the reasonableness 
of her behavior within the circumstances. 

The entries pay less attention to either the vit- 
riolic attacks for licentious behavior or praise for 
passive virtues. Instead, the focus is on what a 
woman did, who she was, and what were the con- 
sequences of her actions. These questions open the 
way to understanding the choices she faced and 
the limitations she suffered. When situated within 
the broadest possible historical context, the entries 
invite readers to contemplate the variety and qual- 
ity of ancient women's lives. 

At least as difficult to communicate as per- 
spective are the pervasive and powerful assump- 
tions about a world foreign to the modern mind. 
Ancient women were no more or less rational than 
their contemporary sisters. However, the physi- 
cal, social, economic, and political environment 
of the ancient world rested on ideas about life and 
death, the gods, politics, geography, power, and 
relationships among men and between men and 
women that bear little similarity with our own. 
The Hellenistic women rulers, the politically ambi- 
tious women of Rome, the imperial women who 
ruled in the names of their sons, and the women 
who chose to become ascetics were responding 
to circumstances and conditions that, even if we 
have the best available information, would still be 
strange to contemporary sensibilities. 

In many biographies, there also is a very imme- 
diate sense of the fragility of life and the perva- 
sive underpopulation that characterized even the 
wealthiest periods in the ancient world. Women's 
lives were dominated by this fragility. Women 
watched children die seemingly almost as fre- 
quently as they experienced their births. Nonethe- 
less, women guarded the city walls when the men 
went to fight. Women organized households on 
estates in the countryside, which were the center 
of production for goods and services all though the 
millennium, and in the cities, Roman matronae 
proudly assumed responsibility for the multigen- 
erational households that incorporated living and 
working, poor and rich, free and slave. 

In an effort to communicate more clearly, the 
language used in this book to describe women's 
status, relationships, and honors may differ slightly 
from older translations of ancient authors and 



familiar modern historians. The entries refer to a 
woman as a "ruler" or "woman ruler" or "coruler" 
rather than queen which carries historical meanings 
not necessarily a part of the ancient world. In addi- 
tion, titles such as Augusta are untranslated because 
they have no exact modern equivalent and are clear 
through context. Such relationships as husband, 
companion, lover, partner, ally, friend, and consort 
describe specific and unique kinds of relationships. 
Epithets, such as businesswoman, financial man- 
ager, and political actor are the modern terms for 
activities in which some women engaged. 

From the perspective of many women in this 
book, the public sphere shrinks and the family 
and religion expand. In religion and in the oikos or 
domus, women were present and powerful. Over 
the millennium, the household changed, from the 
relatively small landholdings of ancient Greece to 
the imperial household of Constantinople, but its 
centrality in ancient life remained constant. The 
changes in the household reflected transformations 
in the larger society; they also reflected the shifting 
power and authority of women. 

Unlike the households of modern times, the 
ancient household was not a part of the private 
sphere. It was a public space for ancient life as 
important as the forum. The transmutation of the 
public ancient household into the private modern 
home has moved out of the historical eye ancient 
women's pivotal control over food, healthcare, 
the bearing and rearing of children, the choosing 
and arranging for marital partners, clothing, clan 
finances, and assignment of labor. Along the his- 
torical way, women's responsibility for these vital 
functions became the curiosity of female fertility 
rites and women became secluded from the public 
urban fray. 

The biographies of the first and the revised edi- 
tion suggest that the survival, let alone the success, 
of ancient society involved a far broader definition 
of power, authority, and gender than has been 
traditionally acknowledged by ancient authors or 
modern scholars. The focus of the extant ancient 
authors has left us more a gendered history of 

men through the development of important male- 
dominated public institutions and military power 
than an exploration of ancient society. Early mod- 
ern scholarship borrowed from the ancients to 
implicitly and explicitly explore the singular issue 
of modernism, which was the emergence of the 
secular state within a gendered European culture. 
The attraction to a history of civil institutions and 
warrior values, however, has clouded the primacy 
of religion and the corporate household. It isn't 
that modern scholarship has failed to explore the 
family and religion, but rather that until quite 
recently politics and military might have retained 
their power over the scholarly imagination as the 
most important aspects of society, placing women 
in a secondary position, at best. 

In these more than 500 biographical entries, 
no person escaped their fate, and women never 
escaped their gender. Nor was the past like the 
present, only in another time. It was radically dif- 
ferent, even when it appeared most similar. While 
the triumphal marches of the military through 
the city of Rome were a demonstration of power 
and newly captured wealth, it was the women left 
behind who secured the city, not only the safety 
of its walls, but the social order that supported 
military prowess. For the ancients, women were 
essential for economic and social survival. Start- 
ing from the perspective of a woman, the gods, 
the state, and the family lived and died together, 
whether it was the imperial domus of Constanti- 
nople, the country estates of the high empire, or 
the households of a Greek city-state. The unusual 
women who appear in the extant ancient litera- 
ture were those who extended their sway into the 
male sphere. The efforts and compromises they 
made to function in a man's world, whether it 
was by the adoption of celibacy or the use of 
sons as ciphers for legitimacy, are our evidence of 
powerful ancient women who stood with author- 
ity and power at the edge of male consciousness. 
In A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women, 
Revised Edition, are the women that even men 
could not ignore. 


A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 

Roman World, ca. Second Century C.E 





Subregion or province 


City or city-state 

Brig antes 

Tribe or ethnic group 


Mountain range 

300 miles 

300 km 

) Infobase Publishing 




A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 




A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women 


Roman Empire and Germanic Kingdoms, ca. Fifth Century C.E 



) Infobase Publishing 



Roman Empire, 481 

Kingdom of Visigoths, after 41 9 

Kingdom of Odacer, 476-493 
and of Theodoric, 493 

Kingdom of Burgundi, 449 
Kingdom of Vandals, 429-534 
Kingdom of Suevi, 450-552 
Kingdom of Franks, 481 

Mediterranean Sea 

GERMAN1A Region 

Syracuse City or city-state 

Saxons Tribe or ethnic group 

ALPS Mountain range 


300 miles 

300 km 




Acte, Claudia 

(first century C.E.) 
self-made woman 

Roman: Italy 

Acte was born a slave in Asia Minor. She and the 
handsome young emperor Nero became lovers in 55 
c.e. Their passion put her in danger of Nero's disap- 
proving and powerful mother, the younger Julia 
Agrippina. Nero hid their affair. Nero's tutor and 
adviser, the philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, and 
his friend Annaeus Serenus shared the secret. Acte, 
who claimed descent from the kingly Attalidae and 
had probably gained her freedom, from the emperor 
Claudius, pretended that Serenus was her lover. 

It was a short-lived deception. Agrippina dis- 
covered the relationship; she only inflamed Nero's 
passion by her attacks on Acte. Shifting tactics, 
Agrippina offered Nero her rooms for their assig- 
nations. Rumors spread that Agrippina sought to 
seduce her son. Acte, in fear of her life, told Nero 
that his mother boasted of committing incest and 
that the troops were grumbling about an incestu- 
ous emperor. Alarmed, Nero first avoided Agrip- 
pina and later had her killed, in 59 c.e. 

Acte could not hold Nero's passion. Even before 
Agrippina's murder. Acte had been pushed aside. In 
68 c.e., however, the extravagant and beautiful Nero 
came to an inglorious end. He returned from Greece 
to a corn shortage in Rome, an angry populace, and 

a senate that opposed him. Events soon escalated, 
and he was declared a public enemy. Finally, he com- 
mitted suicide. It was the loyal and loving Acte, 
along with his old nurses, who dressed him in gold- 
embroidered white robes and carried his ashes to the 
Pincian Hill, where he was entombed. Acte, who 
had grown wealthy with estates in Sardinia and Italy, 
paid 2,000 gold pieces for the funeral of her lover. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 61 .7 .1 . 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Nero 28.1, 50. 

Tacitus. Annates 13.12-13, 46; 14.2. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 108, 128. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, p. 194. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 336. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 399. 

[a] Acutia 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
convicted conspirator 

Acutia was convicted of treason in the trials that 
followed the downfall of Lucius Aelius Sejanus in 



the last years of the emperor Tiberius. Although 
her full name remains elusive, Acutia's husband 
was Publius Vitellius. He committed suicide in 
31 c.e. after he had been charged with diverting 
military funds to support a conspiracy led by 

The dour and aging emperor had retired to Capri 
and left Sejanus in Rome. As prefect of the Praeto- 
rian Guard he became the emperors eyes and ears in 
the capital. His aspirations grew. He sought to marry 
his lover Livia Julia Claudia Livilla, the emperors 
niece, and perhaps even become regent for her young 
son after the death of Tiberius. His plans had almost 
succeeded when the aged emperor charged him with 
treason. A purge followed. Prosecutors grew rich 
from the trials. In 37 c.e. Laelius Balbus prosecuted 
Acutia before the Senate for her presumed participa- 
tion in the conspiracy. Although convicted, she may 
have escaped death. There is no record of her execu- 
tion, and the tribune Junius Otho vetoed the usual 
reward taken by a successful prosecutor. 


Tacitus. Annates 6A7. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, p. 216. 

Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiberius. New York: Barnes 
and Noble, 1931, p. 217. 

Marshall, A. J. "Women on Trial before the Roman Sen- 
ate." Classical Views 34 (1990): 333-336, 348. 


(fourth century b.c.e) 

Greek: Asia Minor 

Ada was the younger daughter of Hecatomnus. 
She married her brother Idrieus. They ruled Caria, 
in southwestern Asia Minor, as a virtually indepen- 
dent satrapy within the Persian empire. Ada and 
Idrieus succeeded their brother and sister Mauso- 
lus and Artemisia II, famed for building the first 
mausoleum and one of the seven wonders of the 
ancient world, which Artemisia completed to 
memorialize Mausolus after his death. 

Ada was the sole ruler of Caria after Idrieus's 
death until her brother Pixodarus seized power and 
expelled her. She retired to Alinda, a Carian fortress 
that remained under her control. In 334 b.c.e., she 
allied herself with Alexander the Great when he 

invaded Caria. She led the troops that captured 
one of the two forts at Halicarnassus. 

With Alexander's aid she defeated Pixodarus 
and regained control over Caria. She was again the 
sole ruler. She adopted Alexander, which assured 
his succession and recognized his suzerainty. 


Arrian. Anabasis of Alexander 1.2.3. 
Strabo. Geography 114.217, C657. 
Brill's New Pauly. Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. Vol. 1, 

Classical Tradition. Edited by Manfred Landfester et al. 

Boston: Brill, 2002, pp. 130-131. 

© Aelia lunilla 

(?-31 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political victim 

Aelia lunilla died because she was the daughter of 
Apicata and Lucius Aelius Sejanus. Her father, 
head of the Praetorian Guard, had become the 
most powerful man in Rome when he alone had 
the ear of the emperor after Tiberius retired to 
Capri in 27 c.e. He was also the lover of Livia Julia 
Claudia Livilla, widowed daughter-in-law (and 
niece) of Tiberius and mother of the emperor's 
infant grandson. Around Livilla and Sejanus a con- 
spiracy grew. The ailing emperor learned of Seja- 
nus's perfidy from the younger Antonia, Livilla's 
mother. Vengence followed quickly In October of 
31 c.e., the Senate voted to execute Sejanus. 

Eight days after her father died, her mother 
killed herself. In December lunilla and her young 
brother were seized on Senate orders that there be 
no descendants of Sejanus. Traditionally, the 
Romans did not kill virgins, and it was said that 
lunilla was raped before she was strangled. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 58.1 1, 5. 
Tacitus. Annales 6.5, 9. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, p. 178. 

Aelia Paetina 

(first century c.e.) 
political victim 

Roman: Rome 

Aelia Paetina married the future emperor Claudius 
during the years when it seemed unlikely he would 

Aemilia (2) 

rule. She had a daughter, Antonia (4), born in 
about 28 c.e. When Claudius's prospects improved 
in the reign of his nephew Gaius Caligula, he 
divorced Aelia to marry the better-connected Vale- 
ria Messallina. 

After Messallina's death in 48 c.e., the powerful 
freedman Narcissus proposed to the emperor that 
he remarry Aelia. Aelia, the daughter of Aelius 
Catus, consul in 4 c.e., posed no threat to the 
imperial freedmen who controlled the bureaucracy 
and exercised their influence over Claudius. 
Claudius, however, married the younger Agrippina 
and Narcissus soon lost his position and his life. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Claudius 26.2, 3. 

Tacitus. Annates 12.1-2. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 122. 

Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 25, 
55, 70. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

Aemilia (I) 

(second century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Aemilia was one of three Vestal Virgins charged 
with violating the vow of chastity in 114 b.c.e. A 
daughter of the clan of the Aemilii, she was one of 
the six virgins dedicated for a period of 30 years to 
protect the sacred flame of Rome in the temple of 
Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, and one of the 
oldest temples in the Forum. 

Aemilia had an affair with L. Veturius, a Roman 
equestrian, and induced two of her sister Vestals, 
LiciNiA (4) and Marcia (i), similarly to engage 
Veturius's companions. It was said that Aemilia had 
several lovers, including Licinia's brother. Tried 
before the pontifex maximus, Lucius Caecilius 
Metellus, Aemilia was found guilty and condemned 
to death. Licinia and Marcia, initially declared 
innocent, were retried and condemned the follow- 
ing year. Evidence against the women came from a 
slave, Manius, who felt insufficiently rewarded by 
the women for his role as their go-between. 

Romans traditionally regarded violations of 
chastity by the Vestal Virgins as signs of ill omen. 
Tales of their promiscuity often accompanied other 
indications of impending trouble for the city-state 
and sometimes preceded periods of political insta- 
bility. In 1 1 1 b.c.e. a fire destroyed much of Rome 
and during these years there was a war against 
Jugurtha of Numidia in North Africa. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 26.87. 

Livy. From the Founding of the City 63. 

Orosius. Seven Books of History Against the Pagans 5.15, 

Plutarch. Moralia: Quaestiones Romanae 83. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 52-58. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 153. 

Aemilia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
political wife 

Roman: Rome 

Aemilia was the daughter of Caecilia Metella (i) 
from the rich and powerful Metelli clan. Aemilia's 
father was Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, consul in 1 15 
b.c.e. After the death of her father, Aemilia's mother 
married Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the general who 
later became dictator of Rome. It was considered 
the match of the season, a great coup for Sulla who 
gained critical political support and wealth from 
the Metelli. For Caecilia, it was a chance to play 
politics using her family's stature and wealth to sup- 
port a newcomer from an old patrician family that 
had long been out of the limelight. 

Sulla and Caecilia Metella persuaded Gnaeus 
Pompeius (Pompey the Great) to divorce his wife 
Antistia (2) and marry Aemilia. At the time, 
Aemilia was pregnant and living with her husband, 
Manius Acilius Glabrio, future consul in 67 b.c.e. 
An alliance with Sulla and the Metelli through 
Aemilia clearly enhanced and enriched Pompey. 

Aemilia's views on her divorce and remarriage 
are not known. She died during childbirth in 80 
b.c.e. shortly after her marriage with Pompey. 

Aemilia Lepida (I) 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pompeius 9.2. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Sulla 33.3 
Haley, Shelly P. "The Five Wives of Pompey the Great." 

In Women in Antiquity, ed. by Ian McAuslan and Peter 

Walcot. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 

103 ff. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 1 54. 
Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 

University Press, 1963, pp. 31-32. 

Aemilia Lepida (I) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
political wife 

Roman: Rome 

Aemilia Lepida, daughter of Mamercus Lepidus 
Livianus, consul in 77 b.c.e., was jilted by Quintus 
Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio. She then agreed to 
marry Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis. The two 
men could not have been more dissimilar. Cato 
was a self-righteous, unpleasant ascetic, while 
Scipio was corrupt and depraved. 

On hearing of her engagement, Scipio changed 
his mind, and they were married about 73 b.c.e. 
Cato wanted to sue Scipio. Dissuaded by friends, he 
instead wrote and widely circulated a satiric poem 
ridiculing his rival. The result was a lasting feud. 

Aemilia Lepidas son, Metellus Scipio, died at 18; 
her daughter, Cornelia (6), married Publius Licin- 
ius Crassus in 55 b.c.e. He died in 53. In 52, Cor- 
nelia married Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the 
Great) . Aemilia's new son-in-law, one of the most 
powerful politicians in Rome, supported the elec- 
tion of her husband as consul. Scipio's election made 
him immune from any law suits. He thereby avoided 
a bribery charge, and Aemilia Lepida became the 
wife, as well as the daughter, of a consul. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cato Minor 7. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 166. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, p. 245. 

[b] Aemilia Lepida (2) 

(first century B.c.E.-first century CE.) 
Roman: Rome 

unjustly convicted of adultery 

Aemilia Lepida was successfully prosecuted before 
the Senate by her vindictive ex-husband in a curi- 
ous case that had political overtones. An aristo- 
cratic woman of impeccable lineage, she was the 
daughter of Cornelia (7) and the granddaughter 
of Mucia Tertia and Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey 
the Great). Her father, Quintus Aemilius Lepidus, 
was the son of the triumvir Marcus Aemilius Lepi- 
dus and Junia (1). She had been affianced to 
Lucius Julius Caesar, the grandson of Augustus, 
but Lucius died before the marriage could take 

Around 2 c.e., she contracted a less auspicious 
marriage with the much older, but wealthy, Pub- 
lius Sulpicius Quirinus who had been consul in 12 
b.c.e. Three years later they were divorced. She 
then married Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus, a dis- 
tinguished orator with an unsavory reputation, 
who was the last living male of the republican 
Aemilii Scauri clan. 

In 20 c.e., her divorced first husband, Quiri- 
nus, now an even more ancient relic, charged her 
with adultery, attempting to poison him, and 
falsely claiming that he was the father of her child. 
She was also accused of consulting astrologers 
about the imperial family, a treasonous offense 
under recent imperial Roman law. Her brother 
Manius Aemilius Lepidus defended her. 

Aemilia Lepida earned a good deal of sympathy 
from women. Not only were the charges brought 
many years after the divorce, but she, the descen- 
dant of a great and noble family, was accused by a 
man of lesser distinction in tiresome old age. 

The emperor Tiberius played a role in the affair. 
Appearing simultaneously magnanimous and con- 
demnatory, he ruled that there was no evidence of 
treason. Aemilia was, however, convicted of falsely 
claiming Quirinus as the father of the child she 
bore during their marriage. By default, therefore, 
she was guilty of adultery during her marriage with 

Aemilia Lepida (4) 

Aemilia was banished, but a plea by Scaurus, 
her current husband, waived the confiscation of 
her property. Tiberius later announced that her 
slaves confessed under torture that she had 
attempted to poison her first husband. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 49.1. 

Tacitus. Annates 3.22-23. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 220. 

Marshall, A. J. "Women on Trial before the Roman Sen- 
ate." Classical 'Views 34 (1990): 333-366, p. 343. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 170. 

Syme, R., Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1986, pp. 112, 115. 

[b] Aemilia Lepida (3) 

(first century B.c.E.-first century c.e.) 
Roman: Rome 

political victim 

Aemilia Lepida was a woman of impeccable lin- 
eage. Her mother was Julia (7), the child of the 
great general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and Julia 
(6), the daughter of Augustus and his first wife, 
Scribonia. No less illustrious on her father's side, 
Aemilia Lepida was the daughter of Lucius 
Aemilius Paullus, the brother of Marcus Aemilius 
Lepidus, the triumvir. 

Her engagement to the future emperor Claudius 
ended when her father was executed for treason in 
8 C.e. and her mother was banished for adultery. 
She later married Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus, 
who had a respectable career, including the consul- 
ship in 19 c.e. They had two daughters, Junia 
Lepida and Junia Calvina, and three sons, Mar- 
cus Junius Silanus, Lucius Junius Silanus Tor- 
quatus, and Decimus Junius Silanus Torquatus. 

Aemilia Lepidas link to Augustus, however, led 
to the downfall of her children. Lucius was forced 
to commit suicide, Marcus was executed, and 
Junia Calvina was exiled, all through the machina- 
tions of the younger Agrippina. Junia Calvina 
was later allowed to return to Rome by the 
emperor Nero. Nero, however, was responsible for 

the forced suicide of Decimus and the condemna- 
tion of Junia Lepida. Aemilia Lepidas own death 
is not recorded. 


Suetonius. The Lives of "the Caesars: Augustus 19.1. 

. The Lives of the Caesars: Claudius 26. 1 . 

Tacitus. Annales 12 .4. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 169. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[b] Aemilia Lepida (4) 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
duplicitous wife 

Aemilia Lepida and her younger brother, Marcus 
Aemilius Lepidus, were the last descendants of the 
great republican family of the Aemilii Lepidi. 
Aemilia married Drusus Julius Caesar, and Mar- 
cus married Drusus's sister, Julia Drusilla (i). 
Drusus and his brother Nero Julius Caesar were 
the great-grandsons of Augustus and stood in 
direct line of succession to the elderly emperor 

Aemilia Lepida was a reputed lover of and pos- 
sible coconspirator with Lucius Aelius Sejanus, 
commander of the Praetorian Guard. In 30 c.e. 
while Sejanus still held power over Rome, her hus- 
band was imprisoned. Although the nature of the 
offense is not known he died while still in prison 
some three years later. In 31 c.e. Sejanus was 
charged with treason and executed. Aemilia 
remained safe under the protection of her father, 
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, consul in 6 c.e. and a 
great favorite of Tiberius. 

After her father's death, however, Aemilia was 
charged with adultery. She did not try to defend 
herself and committed suicide in 36 c.e. Her 
brother, the last of the Aemilii, died four years 
later, in 39, after having been accused of participa- 
tion in a somewhat mysterious conspiracy led by 
Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 58.3.8. 
Tacitus. Annales 6.40. 

Aemilia Tertia 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, pp. 55, 170, 215. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 167. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, p. 136. 

Aemilia Tertia 

(second-first century b.c.e.) 
power broker 

Roman: Rome 

Aemilia Tertia's life was shaped by the wars against 
Carthage. Her father, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, 
consul in 219 and 216 b.c.e., died in Hannibal's 
defeat of the Romans in 2 1 6 at Cannae in Canus- 
ium. Her husband, Publius Cornelius Scipio Afri- 
canus Major, led the Romans to victory over 
Hannibal at Zama in North Africa in 202. 

In 195 b.c.e., Aemilia supported, and possibly 
participated in, the popular effort to repeal the 
Oppian law. Passed by the Senate as an austerity 
measure after the defeat at Cannae, the law barred 
displays of status and wealth. Specifically the law 
forbade carriages within a mile of Rome or in 
Roman towns except for religious festivals, purple 
trim on women's clothing, or women's possession 
of more than a half an ounce of gold. Although 
after Hannibal's defeat, austerity laws directed 
against men were lifted, until the women protested 
the law remained in effect against them. 

All of Aemilia's children left a mark on Roman 
history. The eldest, Publius Cornelius Scipio, who 
suffered ill health, which prevented him for follow- 
ing a military and political career, became an out- 
standing orator. The second son, Lucius Cornelius 
Scipio, was praetor in 174. Of her two daughters, 
the eldest, Cornelia (i), married her cousin Pub- 
lius Cornelius Scipio Nasica. The younger, Cor- 
nelia (2), married Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus 
and was the mother of two of Rome's most famous 
reformers, Tiberius and Gaius Sempronius Grac- 
chus. In the political battles around the land bills 
supported by her grandsons, her son-in-law, Scipio 
Nasica, emerged as a leader of the conservative fac- 
tion that assassinated Tiberius. 

An aprocryphal story about the marriage of the 
younger Cornelia possibly suggests something of 
Aemilia's expectations of her husband. Attending a 
dinner of senators, Scipio was urged by those pres- 
ent to arrange his daughter's marriage with Tiberius 
Sempronius Gracchus. He agreed, and the contract 
was concluded on the spot. On returning home he 
told Aemilia. She was furious because she had not 
been consulted. She added that it was improper for 
him to act without having consulted her, even if 
the bridegroom was the desirable Tiberius Sem- 
pronius Gracchus. 

Aemilia outlived her husband and faced the 
political attacks against him that erupted after his 
death in the early 180s b.c.e. Since her daughter's 
marriage in fact happened after her husband's 
death she probably was consulted. She also freed 
her husband's slave/lover and arranged for her mar- 
riage. While not without precedent, it nonetheless 
speaks well for the woman. 

Aemilia was independently wealthy, in part, 
from her dowry, gifts from her husband, and a 
wide circle of clients. Possibly she also benefited 
from the spoils of her brother, Lucius Aemilius 
Paullus Macedonicus, consul in 168 b.c.e., who 
led the Romans to victory in the Third Macedo- 
nian War. She was said to have lived and traveled 
in comfort, accompanied by a number of retainers. 
She left her fortune to Publius Cornelius Africanus 
Numantinus, her adopted grandson. The date of 
Aemilia's death is unknown. 


Livy. Prom the Founding of the City 38.57.5—8. 

Polybius. Histories 31.26.1-6; 31.27.1-4. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri IX 6.7.1. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., pp. 47, 215. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, index. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, passim. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 180. 

Agariste (2) 

[b] Afriana (Carfania) 

(?— 48 b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Afriana, also called Carfania, represented herself 
and others in cases brought before the praetor. The 
wife of Licinius Bucco, a senator of the first cen- 
tury b.c.e., Afriana lived during a time of turmoil 
and civil war when many men were in flight, in the 
army, or dead. Families found themselves pulled 
apart by the passions of the times and sometimes 
on opposing sides. Afriana, like other women, 
moved into spheres of activity usually reserved for 
men: She went into the law courts. 

Afriana's success irritated some and provoked 
others to ridicule, which reflected the Romans' 
contradictory views of women and the law. On 
one hand, women were assumed to be unknowing 
and in need of protection. On the other hand, 
ignorance of the law, even on the part of a woman, 
was not an acceptable defense in the courts. 

By the later first century b.c.e., however, women 
owned property in their own name and increas- 
ingly both sued and were sued. After Afriana, how- 
ever, the law was changed so that women could 
plead for themselves before a magistrate but were 
prohibited from representing others. Afriana died 
in 48 b.c.e. 


Ulpian. The Civil Law 11.1.232n.30. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri 1X8.3.2. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 50-51. 
Marshall, A. J. "Ladies at Law: The Role of Women in the 

Roman Civil Courts." In Studies in Latin Literature and 

Roman History, ed. by C. Deroux. Brussels, Belgium: 

Latomus, 1989, pp. 38-54. 

[a] Agariste ( I ) 

(sixth century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Sicyon and Athens 
mother of Cleisthenes 

Agariste was the daughter of Cleisthenes, ruler of 
Sicyon, a Greek city northwest of Corinth, in the 
years between 600-570 b.c.e. Cleisthenes deter- 

mined that Agariste would marry the best man in 
all of Greece. At the conclusion of the Olympic 
Games in c. 576 b.c.e., he invited worthy contes- 
tants to arrive in Sicyon within the next 60 days 
and spend a year as his guests. At the end of that 
time, one among them would marry his daughter. 

Thirteen eminent men from 12 cities accepted the 
challenge. Cleisthenes assessed their families, expecta- 
tions, and cities of origin. He tested their prowess in 
wresding and running. At the end of a year, he gave a 
banquet and invited everyone in the city. 

His favorite appeared to be Hippocleides, 
described as the wealthiest and the most handsome 
of the Athenians. Under the influence of too much 
wine, however, Hippocleides danced on a table and 
stood on his head waving his legs. Outraged at this 
behavior, Cleisthenes instead chose Megacles, a 
member of the aristocratic Alcmaeonidae of Athens. 

Agariste gave birth to two children: Cleisthenes, 
who became the Athenian statesman regarded as 
the creator of Athenian democracy, and Hip- 
pocrates, the father of Agariste (2). 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 6. 1 26-3 1 . 

Blundell, Sue. Women in Ancient Greece. London: British 

Museum Press, 1995, p. 67. 
Hammond, N. G. L. A History of Greece. Oxford: Oxford 

University Press, 1967, p. 148. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, pp. 34-35. 

Agariste (2) 

(c. 520/510 b.c.e, 
mother of Pericles 

Greek: Athens 

Agariste was born between 520 and 510 b.c.e. She 
was the daughter of Hippocrates, the son of 
Agariste (i), after whom she was named. Her 
father was a member of the family of the aristocratic 
Alcmaeonidae, and her uncle was Cleisthenes, who 
was one of the founders of Athenian democracy. 

She married Xanthippus, an Athenian politi- 
cian and general who helped defeat the Persians at 
the battle of Mycale in 479. According to Herodo- 
tus, Agariste dreamed that her son was delivered by 

Agariste (3) 

a lion. The son, born in 494 b.c.e., became the 
great Athenian statesman Pericles. She had two 
other children: Ariphron (II), named after her hus- 
band's father, and a daughter who died of the 
plague in 430. 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 6.131. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pericles 3.1—2. 
Davies, J. K. Athenian Propertied Families, 600—300 B.C. 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, pp. 456^57. 

Agariste (3) 

(fifth century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Athens 

Agariste testified against the brilliant, dissolute, 
and popular general Alcibiades at his celebrated 
trial in Athens (415 b.c.e.). She was a member of 
the aristocratic Alcmaeonidae family and the wife 
of Alcmaeonides, a leading Athenian. 

Agariste had witnessed Alcibiades and his 
friends in a drunken revel staging a travesty of the 
sacred Eleusinian rites for goddesses Demeter and 
Kore. The episode happened at night in the house 
of Charmides, a friend of Alcibiades. It is possible, 
and even probable, that Agariste was visiting kin 
when the event happened. 

Few extant records record women's court testi- 
mony in fifth century Athens, nor are there many 
records of well-born women moving around the 
city after dark. 


Andocides. On the Mysteries 1.16. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Alcibiades 19.1-2. 

MacDowell, Douglas M., ed. Andokides, On the Mysteries. 

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962, p. 75. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, pp. 81, 119. 

[b] Agathocleia 

(third century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Samos and Egypt 
adventurer and murderer 

Agathocleia came to Egypt from the island of 
Samos off the coast of Asia Minor with her brother, 

Agathocles, and their mother, Oenanthe. The 
name of their father is unknown. Agathocleia was 
a dancer, and her mother played the tambourine. 
Oenanthe became one of Ptolemy Ill's many lov- 
ers and brought her children into the life of the 
palace. Shortly after Ptolemy IV became ruler in 
221 b.c.e., he became wildly infatuated with 
Agathocleia. It was rumored that through him she 
controlled Egypt. 

In 205 b.c.e. Agathocleia and her brother 
arranged the murder of Ptolemy IV and his wife, 
Arsinoe III Philopator. The conspirators included 
Oenanthe and Sosibius, guardian of Ptolemy's son. 
The deaths were kept secret for several days while 
Agathocles had himself appointed regent. Philam- 
mon, a coconspirator and murderer of Arsinoe, left 
Alexandria, and Agathocleia and Oenanthe took 
over care of the five-year-old boy-ruler. 

The murder of Arsinoe, even more than the 
death of Ptolemy, aroused the anger of the Greek 
troops and the Alexandrian populace. A crowd, 
eager for revenge, collected at the stadium. A naked 
Agathocleia, along with her mother, brother, sisters, 
and relatives, were turned over to the mob and torn 
limb from limb. The women, especially those who 
had been close to Arsinoe, led the slaughter. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 13.577. 
Plutarch. Moralia: Amatorius 9. 
Polybius. Histories. 14.11.2; 15.25.3-33. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984, passim. 

(?-24l b.c.e.; 

Greek: Sparta 

Agesistrata, and her mother Archidamia, and her 
daughter-in-law Agiatis were among the wealthi- 
est women in Sparta during the middle decades of 
the third century b.c.e. They were committed to 
reform, especially land reform. Along with their 
friends, retainers and dependents, they constituted 
an influential political bloc in support of Agis IV, 
who led a reformist revolution in 244 b.c.e. to 
overthrow the reigning ruler, Leonidas II. 


Agrippina the Elder, Vipsania 

Agis IV, who was Agesistrata's son, was deposed 
and killed in 24 1 . After her son's death, Agesistrata 
and her mother were executed. She died willingly, 
her final wish being that her death benefit Sparta. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Agesilaus 4.2; 7.7; 
9.5-6; 20.7. 

Mosse, Claude. "Women in the Spartan Revolutions of 
the Third Century B.C." In Women's History and Ancient 
History, ed. by Sarah B. Pomeroy. Chapel Hill: Univer- 
sity of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 138-153. 

[a] Agiatis 

(third century b.c.e.) Greek: Sparta 

Agiatis, the wealthy daughter of Gylippos, a well- 
respected Spartan, was heir to her fathers fortune. 
Committed to reform, she was part of an aristo- 
cratic and wealthy faction that also included her 
mother-in-law, Agesistrata, and the latter's 
mother, Archidamia. 

Her first husband, Agis IV, seized power from 
the ruler Leonidas II in 244 b.c.e. at a time when a 
small oligarchy controlled large estates, and held 
mortgages on much of the remaining farmland. It 
was also a period of declining population, which 
seriously depleted manpower for the military and 
labor for agriculture. Agis sponsored a number of 
reforms and abolished mortgages to relieve debt. A 
conservative revolt led by the deposed Leonidas in 
241 resulted in the death of Agis and left Agiatis a 
widow with a small son. 

Leonidas sought to marry Agiatis to his son 
Cleomenes, who was quite young. Agiatis who 
wanted no part of a marriage to Cleomenes or any- 
one else married under protest. In 235 Cleomenes 
followed Leonidas as ruler. Influenced by Agiatis 
and her circle, Cleomenes III pursued the reform 
policies that had been an anathema to his father, 
and in 227-226 he canceled debts, redistributed 
land, and extended citizenship to some of the 
indigenous population and resident aliens. During 
the same years he was also successful in war and 
expanded Spartan territory; however, his policies 
garnered opposition, and he was overthrown in 

222. He fled to Egypt, where he committed sui- 
cide in 219. It is not known what happened to 
Agiatis or her son. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Agesilaus 4.2. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cleomenes 1.1—3. 

[b] Aglaonice 

(fourth century b.c.e.) Greek: Thessaly 
seer, prophet, astronomer, sorceress 

Aglaonice was from Thessaly, which since the time 
of Alexander the Great in the fourth century b.c.e. 
had a reputation for circles of women with astro- 
logical and astronomical knowledge. Aglaonice 
was reputed to prophesize the eclipses of the moon. 
Her skill in prediction was confused with an ability 
to cause the eclipse and make the moon reappear 
after an eclipse. 


Plutarch. Coniugalia praecepta 48, 145c; de. def., 13, 417a. 

Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopedia of the Ancient World: Classi- 
cal Tradition, Vol. 1, edited by Manfred Landfester et al. 
Boston: Brill, 2002, p. 343. 

Pomeroy, Sarah, ed. Plutarch's Advice to the Bride and Groom 
and a Consolation to His Wife. New York: Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1999. 

[b] Agrippina the Elder, Vipsania 

(c. 14 B.C.E.-33 C.E.) 

Roman: Germany and Rome 

political player and power broker 

Vipsania Agrippina was an extraordinarily power- 
ful and ambitious woman fully conscious of her 
noble heritage and determined to see that she, her 
husband, and their children received the titles, 
honors, respect, and positions due them. She was 
the daughter of Julia (6), the only child of Augus- 
tus and his first wife, Scribonia. Her father was 
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Augustus's greatest 
general and closest confidant. 

Around 5 c.e., Agrippina married Germanicus 
Julius Caesar, whose lineage matched hers. He was 
the son of Nero Claudius Drusus and the younger 
Antonia. His father was the brother of the future 

Agrippina the Elder, Vipsania 



^^^- r l^^''' i 

■ si 

L @i- lit- 

The deified Vipsania Agrippina was commemorated with this coin after her death. 
(Date: 37 C.E.-4I C.E. 1952.81.2, Archives, American Numismatic Society) 

emperor Tiberius; his mother, the daughter of 
Mark Antony and the independent-minded sister 
of Augustus, Octavia (2). In 4 c.e., Augustus 
adopted Tiberius, who in turn, adopted Germani- 
cus as his son to form a line of Active kin and 
ensure the future of the family and state. 

Agrippina accompanied her husband on his 
campaign to lower Germany in 14 c.e. She was 
generous and popular with the troops, whom she 
helped with food, clothing, and medical care. Sto- 
ries about her echo the attributes of courage and 
strong character that marked the ancient heroines. 
In 15 c.e., as Roman troops retreated toward a 
bridge that crossed the Rhine, pursued by the Ger- 
mans, Agrippina stationed herself at the head of 
the bridge and stopped the retreat. The troops 
stood their ground and won the battle. 

In 18 C.E., Agrippina, pregnant with her ninth 
child, accompanied her husband to Syria, after 
Tiberius made Germanicus consul with responsi- 
bility for all the provinces in the East. A military 
man himself, Tiberius was not comfortable with 
Germanicus's overly aggressive tactics and sent his 
friend Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso as governor to 
encourage a more moderate policy. Piso went to 
Syria with his wife, Munatia Plancina, a woman 

as strong, outspoken, and arrogant as Agrippina. 
The two men did not like each other and did not 
get along. Nor did the two women. 

When Munatia criticized Germanicus before 
the troops, Germanicus ordered Piso and his wife 
to leave Syria. They went to the island of Cos off 
the coast of Asia Minor. On October 10, 19 c.e., 
Germanicus died of a mysterious illness in Antioch. 
Before he died, he accused Piso and Munatia of 
poisoning him. Piso and Munatia openly rejoiced 
at the death of Germanicus and immediately 
sought to reassert their authority. 

Agrippina believed not only that Germanicus had 
been poisoned by Piso and Munatia, but also that 
Tiberius was behind the deed. She returned to Rome 
with her husbands ashes, determined to avenge his 
death and to promote the interests of her six surviv- 
ing children: Drusus Julius Caesar, Nero Julius Cae- 
sar, Gaius Caligula, the younger Agrippina, Julia 
Drusilla (i), and Julia Livilla. The population of 
Rome turned out to pay Germanicus homage. The 
emperors mother, Livia Drusilla; the taciturn 
Tiberius; and Antonia, Germanicus's own mother, 
did not attend the ceremonies. People took their 
absence as confirmation that Tiberius might have 
had a hand in the death of Germanicus. 


Agrippina the Elder, Vipsania 

Agrippina brought formal charges against Piso 
and Munatia. Poisoning could not be proved so 
the main charge was treason. Tiberius presided 
over the trial in the Senate. Piso killed himself 
before the end of the trial after having written to 
Tiberius protesting his loyalty. Munatia's trial had 
been separated from that of her husband. Livia, 
her close friend, intervened; Tiberius told the Sen- 
ate that his mother wanted no action taken against 
Munatia, and she escaped conviction. Agrippina 
was furious. She and Livia, who had long disliked 
each other, were further alienated. 

Agrippina spent the years 19—29 c.e. in Rome 
working to promote her sons as heir to Tiberius. 
Livia Julia Claudia Livilla and Lucius Aelius Seja- 
nus, prefect of the Praetorian Guard, were her 
opponents. Livilla, the sister of Germanicus, was 
Agrippinas sister-in-law. She was the grand-niece of 
Augustus and the widow of Tiberius's son, Drusus 
Julius Caesar. Sejanus was a military man of eques- 
trian background who had become Tiberius's confi- 
dant, and after 27 c.e., when Tiberius retired from 
Rome to Capri, he controlled access to the emperor. 
Although an uncle on his mother's side had been a 
consul suffectus, Sejanus had neither family nor 
family connections in the senatorial class that 
allowed him any aspiration to achieve for himself 
the position of emperor. In the person of Livilla, he 
found an ally whose sons were possible successors. 
Sejanus and Livilla became lovers and schemed to 
make Livilla's son the successor to Tiberius. 

Agrippina was at the center of a group of pow- 
erful people who hated and resented the enormous 
influence exercised by Sejanus. They regarded his 
background with arrogant distaste and his position 
as an impediment to their own power. The senato- 
rial families who supported Agrippina acted in the 
belief that tradition was on their side. There may 
have been an attempted conspiracy to supplant 
Tiberius with Agrippinas oldest son, Drusus Julius 

In 24, Sejanus initiated a barrage of legal attacks 
against Agrippina and her supporters. In the subse- 
quent trials, some were exiled; others committed 
suicide or were executed. Despite the coolness 
between Agrippina and Livia, however, so long as 

Livia remained alive, Sejanus could not directly 
attack her or her children. Short of the emperor, 
Livia alone could forestall Sejanus. 

In 25, Tiberius refused Sejanus's request to 
marry Livilla. In 26, Tiberius also refused Agrippi- 
nas request to marry. Gaius Asinius Gallus, a wid- 
ower and no friend of Tiberius, was the man most 
likely to have been Agrippinas choice. Her inten- 
tion may well have been to ally herself with a man 
of suitable background who could and would pro- 
mote her interests. Gallus was known to be ambi- 
tious, and married to Agrippina, he might become 
the stepfather of an emperor. Tiberius, however, 
hated Gallus, who had once married his former 
wife, Vipsania Agrippina. 

Sejanus harassed Agrippina and fed her belief 
that the emperor had poisoned her husband. She 
came to believe that Tiberius intended also to poi- 
son her. While dinning with the emperor, she did 
not eat and when offered some fruit by Tiberius, 
she instead handed it to her servants. Tiberius 
remarked to his mother that it would not be sur- 
prising if he took action against someone who 
thought he was trying to poison her. 

Tiberius made no immediate move against 
Agrippina or her sons. Doing so would have caused 
a confrontation with his mother who was already in 
her 80s. After the death of Livia in 29, however, 
Tiberius sent a letter to the Senate in which he 
accused Agrippina of arrogance and pride and her 
son Nero of homosexuality. Supporters of Agrip- 
pina gathered outside the Senate with signs and 
shouted that the letter was a fabrication of Sejanus. 
The Senate did nothing. Sejanus informed Tiberius 
of the Senate's inaction and the behavior of the 
mob. Tiberius sent another letter that denounced 
the actions of the crowd and demanded that the 
matter be decided by him. Agrippina was exiled to 
the tiny island of Pandateria off the coast of Cam- 
pania. Nero was banished to Pontia off the same 
coast and executed or forced to commit suicide in 
31. In 30, Sejanus convinced Tiberius that Agrippi- 
nas son Drusus was also a threat and should be 
imprisoned. He was incarcerated under the palace. 

In 31, the end came for Sejanus. Following 
receipt of information from the younger Antonia, 

Agrippina the Younger, Julia 

mother-in-law to Agrippina and mother to Livilla, 
Tiberius ordered Sejanus imprisoned for treason. 
Sejanus was strangled on October 18. His death 
did not help Agrippina, who died of starvation in 
33, as did her son Drusus. 

After her death, Tiberius accused Agrippina of 
adultery with Gallus. Agrippina's reputation for 
chastity, however, was only equaled by that of 
Tiberius's mother, Livia. The very characteristics 
for which Tiberius hated Agrippina — ambition 
and determination — were those for which she was 
also most honored. She would have rejoiced to see 
that in the end it was her son Caligula who suc- 
ceeded Tiberius as emperor of Rome. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 53. 

Tacitus. Annates 1.33, 69; 2.43, 55, 70, 72, 75; 3.1, 3-4, 

17; 4.12, 17, 40, 52-54, 60; 5.3-4; 6.25. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, passim. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, X^^t, passim. 
Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 

and Hudson, 1976, passim. 
Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiberius. New York: Barnes 

and Noble, 1 93 1 , passim. 
Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 

Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,601. 
Syme, Ronald. Tacitus. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 

1958, passim. 

[b] Agrippina the Younger, Julia 

(15-59 c.e.) Roman: Italy 
Augusta; political player 

Julia Agrippina grew up under the influence of her 
formidable mother the elder, Vipsania Agrippina. 
Like her mother, she was ambitious for herself and 
her son, and had witnessed the destruction wrought 
by ambition on members of her family and friends 
close to the emperor. No more ruthless than those 
around her, she was exiled and recalled, hated and 
adored. A brilliant woman, politically astute, 
charming on occasion, and cultured, she left a now 
lost memoir that justified her choices during the 
reigns of three different emperors, one of whom 

was her brother; the second, her husband; and the 
third, her son. 

The younger Agrippina was born on November 
6, 15 c.e., at Ara Ubiorum (modern Cologne), 
one of nine children and the eldest daughter of 
Agrippina and Germanicus Julius Caesar. Her 
father was Augustus's stepgrandson, and her 
mother was Augustus's granddaughter by his only 
child Julia (6). Agrippina the Younger married 
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus in 28, when she 
was 13. He was described as despicable, cruel, and 
dishonest. He was also rich. 

Only a year later, in 29, Agrippina's mother and 
brother Nero Julius Caesar were banished by 
Tiberius for plotting against him. In 31, Nero 
Julius Caesar died through either murder or sui- 
cide, and in 33, her mother died by starvation. Her 
brother Drusus Julius Caesar, imprisoned in 30, 
died in prison in 33. 

Julia Agrippina's son Nero Claudius Caesar was 
born in 37, the same year that her one surviving 
brother, Gaius Caligula, succeeded Tiberius as 
emperor. Caligula honored Agrippina along with 
his two other surviving sisters as honorary Vestal 


Julia Agrippina 

(Date: 51 C.E.-52 C.E. 1001.130042, Archives, 

American Numismatic Society) 


Agrippina the Younger, Julia 

Virgins and raised their status and influence with 
an honor that was without precedent by adding 
their names to the annual oaths of allegiance to the 
emperor. When Julia Drusilla (i), Caligula's 
favorite, died in 38, he deified her. 

After her sister's death, Agrippina had an affair 
with her brother-in-law, Marcus Aemilius Lepi- 
dus, who may have had his eye on succession as 
perhaps did Agrippina. In 39, Caligula exiled 
Agrippina for joining a plot to assassinate him, 
although what actually happened remains a mys- 
tery. It is possible that Agrippina and her only sur- 
viving sister, Julia Livilla, feared that their 
increasingly irrational brother might turn on 
them. Their position was further threatened by 
Milonia Caesonia, whom Caligula married in 
40, already pregnant with a child. 

Agrippina returned from exile when Claudius 
became emperor in 41 c.e., a year after her hus- 
band Domitius Ahenobarbus died. She set out to 
protect and promote the interests of her son, the 
future emperor Nero, and to find a new husband. 
Possibly, she married Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, 
consul in 33, but if so, the marriage was short- 
lived. Servius Sulpicius Galba better fit her needs. 
He was very wealthy and liked by Claudius; how- 
ever, he had a wife, Aemilia Lepida. Aemilia's 
mother was said to have slapped Agrippina in pub- 
lic over her forward behavior. Agrippina finally set- 
tled on Gaius Passienus Crispus, consul in 44, a 
very wealthy older man. 

The fact that Passienus Crispus was already mar- 
ried to a most formidable woman failed to deter 
Agrippina. His wife, Domitia, Agrippina's former 
sister-in-law, was not a woman easily thrust aside. 
She and her sister Domitia Lepida had hated 
Agrippina since her earlier marriage to their 
brother, and they took every opportunity to under- 
mine her. Their hatred was returned in full. 

Agrippina was said to have poisoned Passienus 
Crispus for his wealth, and in 48, with the death of 
Claudius's wife Valeria Messallina, she focused 
on her uncle. Never one to leave her affairs with 
men to chance, she used Marcus Antonius Pallas, 
one of the powerful freedmen surrounding 
Claudius, to further her influence. Successful in 

her pursuit, she married Claudius in 49, after the 
Senate removed the prohibition against marriage 
between uncle and niece. Possibly to her credit, the 
next years of his reign were marked by increased 
cooperation with the Senate and a decline in extra- 
judicial murder. 

With Pallas's aid, she persuaded Claudius to 
adopt Nero. In 50, he became one of the emperor's 
two sons. The other, Britannicus, son of Valeria 
Messallina, was younger by several years. Agrip- 
pina also arranged to have Nero marry Claudia 
Octavia, Claudius's daughter. Only nine years old 
at the time of Agrippina's marriage with Claudius, 
she had been affianced to Lucius Junius Silanus 
since infancy. With the help of Lucius Vitellius, 
Claudius's close confidant and adviser, Silanus was 
accused of incest with his sister Junia Calvina. He 
committed suicide in 49, on the day that Agrip- 
pina married Claudius, and Junia Calvina was 
banished by her. Nero and Claudia Octavia mar- 
ried in 53. 

Never one for half-measures, Agrippina elimi- 
nated real and potential enemies. She had Silanus's 
brother, the unambitious Marcus Junius Silanus, 
poisoned so that his connections to Augustus 
would not imperil her son's claim, as well as to pre- 
vent any possibility that he would seek to avenge 
his brother's death. She arranged the execution of 
the powerful freedman Narcissus, who had urged 
Claudius to marry another woman. She also rid 
herself of possible rivals and arranged to have the 
beautiful Lollia Paulina, a former wife of her 
brother Gaius Caligula, and whom Claudius found 
attractive, charged with using magic, banished, 
and eventually killed. 

With Nero positioned to become emperor, 
Agrippina would tolerate no rival for her son's 
affections. In 54 she had her old enemy Domitia 
Lepida accused of using magic and posing a threat 
to Italy from the slaves on her vast estates in Cal- 
abria. Domitia was the grandmother of Britanni- 
cus, Nero's rival for the emperorship, and she had 
pampered Nero during the three years his mother 
was in exile. She was put to death. 

Agrippina received the title Augusta, only the 
second woman to be so honored while alive and 


Albina the Elder 

the first to carry the title during her husband's life- 
time. Despite widespread and malicious gossip 
that she had poisoned Claudius, Nero followed 
Claudius as emperor in 54. On every count Agrip- 
pina had succeeded. She was truly her mothers 

She exercised enormous power during the early 
years of Nero's reign, generally viewed as Nero's 
best years. However, her domination of his life 
came to a predictable end. Nero had an affair with 
Acte, a freedwoman, in spite of Agrippina's objec- 
tions. Agrippina's lover, Pallas, lost his power, and 
Lucius Annaeus Seneca and Sextus Afranius Bur- 
rus, Nero's closest advisers, turned against her. In 
order to frighten Nero, Agrippina seems to have 
hinted that she might support efforts to supplant 
him with his younger stepbrother Britannicus. In 
55, Nero had Britannicus murdered. 

Nero then fell in love with Poppaea Sabina (2), 
a woman whom Agrippina hated and feared for her 
lowly origins and for her influence over Nero. Pop- 
paea hated Agrippina, no less. She forced Nero to 
choose between herself and his mother. Nero had 
long been exasperated over his mother's attempts to 
dominate him and control his public behavior. The 
threat alone or in combination with other circum- 
stances marked the end of Agrippina's dominion. 

An elaborate plot was developed. A freedman, 
Anicetus, who hated Agrippina, arranged to have a 
ship on which Agrippina was to travel sink at sea 
and drown her. The plot failed. The ship did not 
completely sink, and Agrippina managed to swim 
ashore. Anicetus was less inventive the second 
time. Caught stretched out on her couch, she was 
repeatedly stabbed by Anicetus's henchmen. She 
was cremated the same night. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 52.1-14; 59.22.5-9; 60.4.2; 

61.31.6, 8; 61.32. 
Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 7. 
. The Lives of the Caesars: Claudius 26.3; 39.2; 

. The Lives of the Caesars: Nero 5.2; 6.1-4; 28.2; 

Tacitus. Annates 4.53; 12.1-9, 22, 25-27, 37, 41-42, 56- 

59, 64-69; 13.1-2, 5, 13-16, 18-21; 14.1-12. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963. 
Barrett, Anthony A. Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in 

the Early Empire. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University 

Press, 1996. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994. 
Ferrill, A. Caligula: Emperor of Rome. London: Thames and 

Hudson, 1991. 
Ginsberg, Judith. Representing Agrippina: Constructions of 

Female Power in the Early Roman Empire. New York: 

Oxford University Press, 2006. 
Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 

Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993. 
Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 

Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 777. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 556. 
Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, p. 172. 
. Tacitus. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958, 


[a] Albina the Elder 

(?-388 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
Christian ascetic 

Albina lived during the political and religious tur- 
moil of the fourth century that included Goths 
invading Italy and Christianization of the Roman 
elite. Her patrician family, the Caeionii, exempli- 
fied the process of intermarriage between Chris- 
tians and pagans that enabled Christianity to 
permeate the senatorial ranks. Although her hus- 
band and mother's names are unknown, her father 
was Caeionius Rufus Albinus, consul 345 and 346 
c.e. Albina's two daughters, Marcella and Asella, 
gained renown as ascetics in the early monastic 
movement of Christianity. After the death of her 
husband, Albina remained a celibate widow, a 
Christian univira, who married only once and was 
respected by pagan and Christian alike. 

Albina owned vast estates in multiple provinces 
across the empire that she had inherited from her 
family and her husband and over which she had 
the right to bequeath, sell, or donate as she chose. 


Albina the Younger 

In senatorial families like hers, there was a tension 
between maintaining the integrity of family wealth 
and assuring its transfer to the next generation and 
the choice of an ascetic lifestyle, especially when it 
included donations of family property to support 
monasteries and the church. 

The situation was particularly stark for Albinas 
family since neither of her daughters was likely to 
bear children. The elder one, Marcella, was wid- 
owed only seven months after her marriage and 
before she had any children. Albina proposed a 
second marriage to an elderly suitor Naeratius 
Cerealis. Despite a settlement that would have left 
Marcella among the wealthiest women in Rome, 
she refused. Asella, the younger daughter, never 
married and since youth pursued a monastic life. 

Albina compromised with her family to protect 
the family property and allow her and her daugh- 
ters to pursue ascetic lives. She gave the greater 
portion of her wealth to her brother, C. Caeionius 
Rufus, and to his children, her nieces and neph- 
ews. Marcella did the same. Freed from the burden 
of her wealth, Albina lived with her daughters on 
the Aventine, a wealthy residential section of the 
city, in a community of like-minded women who 
practiced simplicity of person, prayer, and study of 
the scriptures. They left the house infrequently, 
most often on errands of mercy. 

Albina died in 388 c.e. 


Jerome. Letter 44, 127. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992. p. 32. 

Yarbrough, Anne. "Christianization in the Fourth Century: 
The Example of Roman Women." Church History 45, 
no. 2 (June 1976): 150-155. 

Albina the Younger 

(c. 370-431 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, North Africa, and Palestine 
devout Christian 

Albina sought a middle way that avoided the rigor- 
ous asceticism of her daughter, the younger Mela- 

nia, yet acknowledged her attraction to an ascetic 
life. Fortunate or sagacious, she successfully 
divested herself of her estates at the very moment 
the Goths circled Rome. She left Italy for Africa as 
the Goths sacked Rome, and she never returned. 

Albina was the granddaughter of C. Caeionius 
Rufus, brother of the elder Albina, who had suc- 
cessfully maintained the Caeionii family line after 
his sister and her daughters, Marcella and Asella, 
had retreated into an ascetic life. It is unknown if 
her father, Ceionius Rufius Albinus, prefect of Rome 
in 389-391 c.e., was pagan. Her grandmother 
Caecina Lolliana was a priestess of Isis and her uncle 
Publilius Caeionius Caecina Albinus was a Roman 
pontifex responsible for official state cults. 

Albina married Valerius Publicola — a union she 
entered reluctantly. Since youth, she had been 
drawn to the ascetic examples of her great-aunt the 
elder Albina and her cousins Marcella and Asella. 
Albina named her daughter after her mother-in- 
law, the elder Melania, a renowned Christian 
ascetic. It was perhaps no surprise when the 
younger Melania sought to emulate her older 
female relatives and live an ascetic life. Albina and 
her husband, however, acting in a manner reminis- 
cent of her own parents, persuaded Melania to 
marry Valerius Pinianus, scion of another ancient 
aristocratic family. 

After the death of her two young children, the 
younger Melania convinced her husband to prac- 
tice celibacy and distribute their vast fortune to 
charity. Albina, her husband, and the extended 
families on both sides opposed the couple's deci- 
sion. The future of two families rested on Melania 
and Pinianus. With the exception of Albina's 
brother who did not marry, they were the only sur- 
viving members of their respective families from 
whom children could come. 

The families acted to thwart the couple, at least 
in their effort to disperse the family property. Albina 
reluctantly joined her husband in a suit against the 
younger couple that claimed they were minors and 
therefore without full authority over their assets. 
Albinas reluctance may have been further height- 
ened by pressure from her renowned mother-in-law 
who had returned to Italy after an absence of 27 


Albina the Younger 

years, in part to encourage her grandchildren to live 
celibate lives. The elder Melania stayed with the 
family on her trip to Italy. She strengthened the 
young couples resolve and urged Albina and Publi- 
cola to moderate their opposition. She succeeded. 
Publicola relented. He gave his support to the 
young couple just before his death sometime in 
406 c.e., after his mothers departure. 

After Publicola died, and Albina was free to fol- 
low her own inclinations, she joined Melania and 
Pinianus in a modest villa on the Appian Way, and 
Pinianus put his palatial house on the Aventine up 
for sale. However, they were still threatened with 
suits over the family property from members of the 
extended families whose networks of relationships 
dominated the Senate. They sought imperial inter- 
vention from the emperor in Ravenna through 
Serena who was in Rome. She was the right choice. 
The emperor had grown up in her household, and 
her husband, Stilicho, had been regent for the 
emperor during his minority. Serena, herself a 
Christian, obliged. She secured an edict that allowed 
Melania and Pinianus not only to dispose of their 
assets, but to use governors in the provinces in 
which they owned properties to act as their agents 
and to remit the proceeds to them directly. 

It was none too soon to sell. The Goths were in 
Italy and heading to Rome. Pinianus was already 
unable to find a buyer for his large house as politi- 
cal and economic conditions rapidly deteriorated. 
In 408, Albina went with Melania, Pinianus, and 
their respective entourages to Sicily. From there 
Melania, Pinianus, and presumably Albina suc- 
cessfully sold their Italian holdings. Two years later, 
Alaric and the Goths sacked Rome and the three of 
them left Sicily for North Africa. Before leaving 
they managed to liquidate estates in Sicily and 
everywhere else except Spain and Africa. Although 
not as wealthy as her daughter and son-in-law, 
Albina was a large landholder. In addition to her 
father's wealth, some part of the holdings of her 
great-aunt, the elder Albina, had become hers. She 
benefited from divesting her estates just in time as 
did her daughter and son-in-law. 

After the sack of Rome in 410, many wealthy 
Romans left for Africa, especially those with family 

or business connections there. Albina and her 
daughter and son-in-law arrived with significant 
amounts of liquid capital. They settled on their 
unsold estates in Tagaste, a region that had once 
been rich farmland, but a long period of Roman 
mismanagement and corruption compounded by 
drought had impoverished the area and eroded the 
urban infrastructure. It also was an area in which 
orthodox Christianity, favored by Albina and her 
family, faced serious competition from the Dona- 
tists, a sect that arose during the Diocletian perse- 
cutions at the end of the third century. These 
successors of Christians who had willingly suffered 
and even died for their faith were now a rigorist 
community with their own bishops and churches. 
Efforts at reconciliation with the orthodox church 
were rebuffed or botched while the Donatists claim 
of "purity," since only the truly righteous could 
hold membership, held a strong appeal among the 
poor, as did their claim of independence from any 
state authority. 

The Donatists were a significant force around 
Carthage, but it was the orthodox bishop Alypius, 
known for his knowledge of the scriptures and a 
friend of the orthodox and illustrious Augustine, 
bishop in nearby Hippo, who welcomed them. 

They were also well received by the local popu- 
lace, Donatist and orthodox alike, who viewed 
them as an economic bonanza. Shortly after their 
arrival, the family visited the famous Augustine. 
Excited by the appearance of such a wealthy fam- 
ily, locals filled the church. They raised the cry for 
Augustine to ordain Pinianus and that he serve in 
Hippo. Some became quite unruly and uttered 
threats against the family. Violence threatened. 
Augustine restrained the congregation and insisted 
he would not ordain Pinianus without the man's 

Pinianus had no intention of being ordained. 
The matter appeared settled when he agreed that 
should he change his mind and become a cleric, he 
would serve in Hippo. Albina, however, was not 
satisfied. During the fracas the congregation had 
made clear that they wanted the family's money. 
Augustine responded to Albina in a long letter. 
Acknowledging that clergy, including bishops, 



sometimes sought wealthy benefactors, he defended 
the congregation, himself, and Alypius against the 
accusation that all they wanted from the family 
was their wealth. 

The family spent approximately four years in 
Tagaste, not Hippo, and Tagaste benefited. Albina 
donated hangings and gold to the church under 
Alypius. Her children built a brother/sister house 
for religious life on their estates, in which, presum- 
ably, they lived with Melania as head of the com- 
munity of young women, virgins, and widows and 
Pinianus in charge of the men. On the estates they 
also installed two bishops, one Donatist and one 
orthodox, and when they left they donated to the 
church in Tagaste the whole of the estate including 
buildings, workers, workshops, and artisans, all of 
which was greater in area than the city. 

In 417, the family left for Palestine by way of 
Alexandria. They settled in Jerusalem, where they 
met the ascetic and noted churchman Jerome. 
Over the next years, Albina and Pinianus were 
often Melanias only links with the outside world 
as she lived an increasingly cloistered life. Albina 
continued to faithfully serve her daughter until her 
death in 43 1 . Augustine dedicated to her his book 
De Gratia Christi et de Peccato Originali (On the 
grace of God and original sin). 


Augustine. Letter 124; 125; 126. 
Palladius. The Lausiac History 62. 
Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. Berkeley: 

University of California Press, 1967. 
Gerontius. The Life of Melania the Younger. Introduction, 

Translation, and Commentary by Elizabeth A. Clark. 

New York. Edward Mellon Press, 1984, passim. 
James, A. H. M. The Later Roman Empire 284—602: A 

Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey. 2 vols. 

Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964. 
O'Donnell, James J. Augustine: A New Biography. New 

York: HarperCollins, 2005. 
Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 

A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 

1992. p. 33. 
Yarbrough, Anne. "Christianization in the Fourth Century: 

The Example of Roman Women." Church History 45, 

no. 2. (June 1976): 149-165. 

(D Albucilla 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
alleged conspirator; convicted adulterer 

Albucilla, notorious for her many lovers, divorced 
her one and only husband, Satrius Secundus. In 37 
c.e., Albucilla and three senators, Lucius Arrun- 
tius, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, who was the 
husband of the younger Agrippina, and Vibius 
Marsus, as well as several lesser men, were accused 
of adultery and treason against the emperor 
Tiberius. The charges appear to have been insti- 
gated by Quintus Naevius Cordus Suetonius 
Macro, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, with- 
out the knowledge of the already dying emperor. 
Macro presided over the questioning of witnesses 
and the torture of slaves. 

The Senate deliberately moved slowly reflecting 
their sense that Macro had fabricated the charges 
and that the emperor had not long to live. All 
except Albucilla and Arruntius managed to escape 
punishment. Arruntius committed suicide. Albu- 
cilla, however, was not so successful. Carried into 
the Senate after a failed suicide attempt, she was 
convicted of adultery and died in prison. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 58.27.4. 

Tacitus. Annales 6.47-48. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 116, 164. 
Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 

and Hudson, 1976, pp. 198-199. 
Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiberius. New York: Barnes 

and Noble, 1931, passim. 
Marshall, A. J. "Ladies at Law: The Role of Women in the 

Roman Civil Courts." In Studies in Latin Literature and 

Roman History, ed. by C. Deroux. Brussels, Belgium: 

Latomus, 1989, p. 348. 

(D Alee 

(fourth century b.c.e.) Greek: Athens 
self-made woman 

Alee, born a slave, worked as a prostitute and suc- 
ceeded in gaining freedom, respectability, and citi- 
zenship for her eldest son. Working in a brothel 
owned by Euctemon of Cephsia in Piraeus outside 



of Athens, she cohabited with another slave, Dion, 
and had two sons. After some sort of violent fracas, 
Dion fled to Sicyon. Alee continued to work for 
Euctemon until she became too old. He freed her, 
and she took over the management of his tene- 
ment in Athens. 

In time, Euctemon left his wife and children 
and moved in with Alee, who persuaded him to 
have her eldest son by Dion recognized as his own. 
Philoctemon, the eldest son of Euctemon's first 
wife, objected to the boy's registration in his fathers 
phratry, which was the prerequisite for citizenship 
and inheritance. Euctemon threatened Philocte- 
mon that he would marry again and have a second 
family. Faced with the prospect of an unknown 
number of future stepsisters and -brothers that 
could significantly diminish his portion of the 
estate, Philoctemon capitulated. 


Isaeus. Speeches of Isaeus 6.18-26. 

Sealey, R. "On Lawful Concubinage in Athens." Classical 
Antiquity?, (1984): pp. 111-133. 

Walters, K. R. "Women and Power in Classical Athens." In 
Woman's Power, Man's Game: Essays on Classical Antiquity 
in Honor of Joy K. King, ed. by Mary DeForest. Wauco- 
nda, 111.: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1993, pp. 203-204. 


(first century b.c.e.) 

Jewish: Judaea 

Alexandra gained the support of Cleopatra VII to 
oppose her son-in-law, Herod the Great, and died 
in an attempt to overthrow him. She was the 
daughter of John Hyrcanus II, the Hasmonaean 
high priest of Judaea (63-40 b.c.e.). Her daughter, 
Mariamme I, married Herod the Great after he 
thwarted an invasion of Judaea by Antigonus, an 
anti-Roman Hasmonaean leader. 

Herod, appointed king of Judaea by Mark Ant- 
ony and the Roman Senate, made an obscure Jew 
from Babylonia, Hananel, high priest. Angry that 
a Hasmonaean was not appointed, Alexandra 
appealed to Cleopatra, who always engaged in one 
or another intrigue against Herod in hope of 
extending her rule over Judaea. Alexandra was suc- 

cessful: Herod appointed her 17-year-old son Aris- 
tobulus, high priest. 

Herod had Aristobulus drowned at a bathing 
party in Jericho in 36 b.c.e. Alexandra informed 
Cleopatra of his murder, and Cleopatra pressed 
Antony to right the wrong. However, Herod 
charmed Antony, who wanted a strong ruler to 
carry out his policies. Herod reappointed Hananel 
high priest. Thus ended Cleopatra VII's dream of 
acquiring control over Judaea. 

Subsequently Herod fell ill, and Alexandra con- 
spired with Herod's sons to seize control over the 
fortifications of Jerusalem, enabling them to usurp 
the rule of Herod. The plot failed, and Herod had 
Alexandra executed in 28 b.c.e. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 15.23— 
27, 35-40, 53-56, 62-65, 74-76, 247-52. 

Grant, Michael. The Jews in the Roman World. New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973, p. 69. 

Jones, A. H. M. The Herods of Judaea. Rev. ed. Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1967, passim. 

[b] Amalasuntha 

(?-535 c.e.) Goth: Italy 

Amalasuntha was a Goth. She was regent for her 
son and ruled Italy as a semiautonomous region of 
the Roman Empire. Her mother was Ausefleda 
and her father was Theodoric, leader of the Goths 
who ruled Italy for 36 years as a nominal part of 
the Roman Empire. Educated as a Roman, Amala- 
suntha was eloquent in Greek and Latin, as well as 
the spoken dialects of the Goths. Her education 
reflected her father's admiration for Roman law 
and administration, which he had learned as a 
young man during the 10 years he spent in Con- 
stantinople as a hostage to assure Goth compliance 
with Roman agreements. 

In 515, she was betrothed to Eutharic, a Goth 
of elite lineage from Spain. Three years later she 
gave birth to a son Athalaric and later a daughter 
Matasuntha. The emperor Justin appointed her 
husband consul in 519, which placed him in line 
to succeed her father, Theodoric. Unfortunately, in 
522 Eutharic died, four years before Theodoric. 



After her father's death in 526, Amalasuntha 
became regent for her underage son, Athalaric. She 
followed the conciliatory policies of her father and 
continued to merge Goth and Roman civil law. 
She welcomed collaboration with the Senate and 
restored confiscated properties to the families of 
two notable senators who had been executed, the 
philosophers Boethius and Symmachus. Elo- 
quently, she wrote to the emperor Justin urging 
that the tomb of her father should also be the 
burial place of old hatreds. 

For six years after assuming the regency there was 
peace, even though Goths were unaccustomed to 
rule by a woman. In 532, her control over her son 
was challenged as too Roman and inappropriate for 
a future leader of the Goths. She had no choice but 
to allow her son to come under the care of a faction 
who resented her pro-Roman policies. Amalasuntha 
became aware of the plot against her. Although she 
forestalled the plotters with military assignments 
that scattered the leaders to posts on the northern 
frontier, she decided to also act more forcefully. 

Amalasuntha made overtures to Justinian, who 
had become emperor in 527, and requested safe 
refuge in Constantinople and a stopping place 
along the way. He complied. She prepared for 
travel to Epidamnus, on the coast of Illyria oppo- 
site the heel of Italy, and, if necessary, on to Con- 
stantinople. She sent a ship ahead with treasure 
amounting to some twice the annual expenditures 
of the Western empire and instructed the captain 
not to unload but await further instructions. She 
was not idle in Italy. She arranged to kill the pro- 
Goth faction in the court and the army and waited 
in Ravenna for the outcome. When she learned of 
their deaths, she recalled the ship and its treasure. 

Amalasunthas problems were far from over. Her 
son was dying, and a woman alone was not an 
acceptable ruler to Romans or Goths. In the East, 
Justinian harbored plans to restore the glory of the 
empire and regain control over Western territories 
that included Italy. Her cousin Theodahad, who 
was as ambitious as she offered an alternative to the 
imperial power of the East and a male figurehead 
for her rule in Italy. Theodahad, no respecter of the 
niceties of law, had accumulated vast tracts of land 

equal in size to modern Tuscany. Amalasuntha had 
successfully brought suit against him in the courts 
and forced him to repudiate some of his land 
claims. In the flux of the moment Justinian's envoys 
negotiated separately with these two very different 
personalities. As an opening bid in the negotia- 
tions, Theodahad offered his Tuscan properties in 
return for a safe haven in Constantinople. Amala- 
suntha may have offered her loyalty in the rule of 
Italy. Neither, however, desired escape to the East. 

In October 534, Amalasunthas son died. She 
reached an agreement with Theodahad that dis- 
tributed power and authority between them. It was 
an alternative to the threat posed by Justinian from 
the East to them both, and also established a male 
figure in authority over Italy. Treachery was possi- 
ble, but the threat of an invasion by Justinian was 
the bulwark against which Amalasuntha gambled. 
However, Amalasuntha no longer had the support 
of the Goth or Roman elites. Competing factions 
filled Italy with plots of ambition and revenge and 
with conspiracies fed by slights, resentments, and 
quarrels accumulating over years. Justinian's policy 
of setting one group against another successfully 
destabilized the situation. 

Theodora, the Augusta, and Justinian worked 
in tandem to destabilize Italy. Amalasuntha posed 
no threat to Theodora. Had she delivered Italy, she 
might have gained a position as ruler of a semiau- 
tonomous region within the larger empire. There 
has, however, been a tradition that records collu- 
sion between Theodora and Theodahad's wife, 
Gudelina. Possibly, Theodahad had been led to 
believe that he had Justinian's agreement to rule 
Italy under the suzerainty of Constantinople, if he 
surrendered Sicily and removed Amalasuntha. Jus- 
tinian, abetted by Theodora, may have embold- 
ened Theodahad to betray Amalasuntha. 

Theodahad acted. Amalasuntha was imprisoned 
on an island in Lake Bolsena in Tuscany. Even 
there, she posed a threat. Theodahad arranged her 
assassination in April 535. Family members of the 
plotters whom she had ordered assassinated three 
years earlier were only too happy to comply. Jus- 
tinian used Amalasuntha's murder to order an 
invasion of Italy. 




Cassiodorus. Variae 11, 1, 6£; 8, 1-8; 9-1; 10-1.4, 19- 
24; 8f. 

Procopius. Gothic Wars vol. I-V. ii. 1-29; iii. 10-30; iv. 
1—31.: Secret History xvi. 1, 5; xxiv. 23. 

Bury, J. B. Later Roman Empire from the Death ofTheodosius 
to the Death of Justinian, vol. 2. New York: Dover Publi- 
cations Inc., 1958, 159-167. 

Frankforter, A. Daniel. "Amalasuntha, Procopius, and a 
Woman's Place." Journal of Women's History 8 (Summer 
1996): 41-57. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. III. Edited 
by A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Mor- 
ris. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. 
Reprinted 1992, 65. 

[b] Amastris 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 

Persian: Asia Minor 


Amastris was a prudent regent who ruled Hera- 
clea Pontica on the Black Sea after the death of 
her husband. She was the daughter of Oxyartis, 
the brother of the Persian king Darius III. Her 
first husband, Craterus, was one of 80 Macedo- 
nian officers who had married women of the Per- 
sian nobility after Alexander the Great's victory at 
Guagamela in 331 b.c.e. After the death of Alex- 
ander, they divorced, and Amastris married Dio- 
nysius, tyrant of Heraclea Pontica (337-305 b. 
c.e.). She had three children: Clearchus, Oxathres, 
and Amastris. 

After Dionysius died, Amastris became regent. 
She gained the support of Antigonus, who sought 
control of Asia Minor after Alexander's death. 
Later Amastris switched her allegiance to Lysima- 
chus, another of Alexander's former generals, who 
had become ruler of Thrace and northwest Asia 
Minor. Lysimachus, who coveted her wealthy city, 
offered her marriage to seal the alliance. In 302, 
they married and had a son, Alexandras. 

Lysimachus divorced Amastris to marry 
Arsinoe II Philadelphus, the daughter of Ptol- 
emy I Soter who ruled Egypt. Amastris resumed 
her rule over Heraclea, which she enlarged and 
established a city named after herself. 

In 289, Amastris was murdered by her sons. 
Her former husband, Lysimachus, avenged her 
death and took control of the city of Amastris. 


Arrian. Anabasis of Alexander 7-4. 

Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 20.109.6—7. 

Strabo. Geography. 12.3.10. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, 1951, pp. 55, 98. 

Der Kleine Pauly; Lexikon der Antike, ed. by Konrat Julius 
Furchtegott and Walther Sontheimer. Stuttgart, Ger- 
many: A. Druckenmuller, 1984, pp. 289-290. 

Anastasia ( I ) 

(?-early fourth century c.e.) 
political actor 

Roman: Italy 

Anastasia was associated with a plot to assassinate 
Constantine the Great. She was Constantine's half 
sister. They shared the same father, Constantius I. 
Constantine's mother, however, was their father's 
first wife, Helena, who had inspired her son's 
adoption of Christianity in 313. Anastasia's mother 
was the emperor's second wife, Flavia Maximia 

The marriage of Anastasia's mother Flavia and 
Constantius was a political arrangement. Flavia 
was the daughter of the emperor Maximian, who 
had appointed Constantius Caesar in the West. 
Marriage with Flavia successfully situated Con- 
stantius as next in line to succeed Maximian. 

Constantine followed Constantius as emperor, 
and Anastasia married Bassianus. Constantine 
appointed him Caesar in the West, in charge of 
Italy and Illyricum. Bassianus, influenced by his 
brother Senechio, who supported the Western 
emperor Licinius, agreed to assassinate Constan- 
tine. Constantine discovered the plot and exe- 
cuted Bassianus. Nothing more is known of 


Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopedia of the Ancient World: Clas- 
sical Tradition, Vol. 1. Edited by Manfred Landfester 
et al. Boston: Brill, 2002, p. 643. 


Anastasia (3) 

[a] Anastasia (2) 

(?-early sixth century c.e.) 
Roman: Constantinople, Jerusalem 
political actor 

Anastasia was among the wealthy women in Con- 
stantinople whose strong religious beliefs and 
imperial connections affected the politics of the 
time. Like many others close to imperial power, 
she died far from Constantinople. 

Married to Pompeius, a nephew of the emperor 
Anastasius I, who reigned between 491 and 518 
c.e., she had at least one child, a son. Among her 
friends was Anicia Juliana, whose lineage reached 
back to Theodosius the Great, who had ruled a 
century earlier between 383 to 395, and whose 
husband was a general under Anastasius in his war 
against the Persians. Both women were orthodox 
Christians who supported the Chalcedon compro- 
mise of 451 which affirmed the two natures of 
Christ, human and divine, cojoined yet separate. 
When the Chalcedon compromise came under 
threat by Monophysites, who supported a single 
divine nature of Christ, the women's friendship 
became a political alliance. 

The women used their connections with the 
imperial establishment on behalf of visiting clergy 
and played a part in the growing estrangement 
between East and West. In 5 1 1 they lobbied for 
Sabas, one of the founders of Eastern monasticism, 
when he came to Constantinople to plead with the 
emperor on behalf of the persecuted orthodox 
practitioners and bishops in the East. In 518, the 
emperor granted Anastasia the status olpatricia, an 
honor from the emperor for service to the empire, 
and in 519 she corresponded with the Roman 
bishop Hermisdas in hope that her explanation of 
events would contribute to healing a misunder- 
standing over the actions of Acacius, the bishop of 
Constantinople. The controversy had begun in 
481 when Acacius, a moderate bishop, had helped 
draft a letter issued by the emperor Zeno to the 
Egyptian church designed to reconcile East and 
West. It had the opposite effect, and the Western 
church excommunicated Acacius, although he 
retained his position in Constantinople. 

Decades later, in January 532, there was a seri- 
ous threat to the rule of Justinian. Mobs besieged 
the palace. Anastasia's nephews Pompeius and 
Hypatius were in the palace, and the mob raised 
the cry for Hypatius to become emperor. Justinian 
ordered them out. The rioters surged to Hypatius's 
house, dragged him out, and proclaimed him 
emperor. Senators who felt slighted or overlooked 
or who hated the low-class background and visible 
power of the Augusta Theodora joined the fray. 

The mob, as well as the disgruntled senators, 
failed to understand Theodora. She rallied her hus- 
band and his supporters with an impassioned 
speech that effectively ended the revolt. Pompeius 
and Hypatius were executed. Justinian confiscated 
the property of the two families, presumably includ- 
ing that of Anastasia, although he later restored 
much of it along with their honorific titles. 

After the revolt, Anastasia went to Jerusalem to 
live a religious life. She founded a monastery on 
the Mount of Olives where she spent the rest of 
her life. 


Procopius. Persian Wars I, xxiv; 19-21, 53, 56-58. 

Theophanus. Chronicle AM 6005. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, 76-77. 

[a] Anastasia (3) 

(?— 576 c.e.) Roman: Constantinople, Egypt 
religious woman 

Anastasia was a well-born woman of religious prin- 
ciple who lived in Constantinople. Her religious 
vocation followed upon her efforts to escape the 
attentions of the emperor Justinian and any poten- 
tial conflict they would have caused with the Augusta 
Theodora. From Justinian, Anastasia received the 
title patricia, granted to favored persons. He encour- 
aged her to live in the palace. Noted for her good 
sense and faced with his attentions, Anastasia left 
Constantinople for Alexandria. 

She either established or joined a monastery in 
the neighborhood of Ennaton, about five miles 



distant from Alexandria. She supported herself by 
weaving cloth, a common occupation for monastic 
women of the time. After the death of Theodora in 
548, Justinian or his agents attempted to find her. 
She left the monastery, adopted male clothing, and 
went into the desert. 

She met Father Daniel, a monk who became her 
mentor and protector for the remaining decades of 
her life. Near Wadi Natrum, a center of monasti- 
cism at the time, she entered a cave, where she 
lived as an anchorite (solitary ascetic) for 28 years, 
until she died in 576. During all her years in the 
desert she kept her identity and sex hidden to all 
except her mentor, Father Daniel. 


Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, 77. 


(first century b.c.e.) 
mother ofOctavia 

Roman: Rome 

Ancharia was the first wife of Gaius Octavius and 
the mother of Octavia (i). Her husband came 
from a wealthy equestrian family in Velitrae. After 
she died, her husband married Atia (i); their only 
son, Octavian, became the emperor Augustus. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Antonius 3 1 . 
Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 4. 


(first century c.E.) 

Roman: Rome 

Anteia belonged to the fourth generation of a 
Roman family noted for literary and philosophical 
achievements and for principled acts rooted in 
honor and commitment. She, like all of her prede- 
cessors, experienced the wrath of the emperors. 
Anteia was the wife of Helvidius Priscus the 
Younger, a well-known Stoic of his day. 

When Priscus was executed by the emperor 
Domitian for presenting a farce that Domitian 

interpreted as criticism of his recent divorce, Anteia 
remained in Rome. Her mother-in-law, Fannia 
(2), and her grandmother-in-law, the younger 
Arria, were exiled. After Domitian's death, Anteia 
collaborated with her husbands friend Pliny the 
Younger to charge Publicius Certus, whose accusa- 
tions had led to her husband's death. She arranged 
for Fannia and Arria to press suit jointly with Pliny 
and testify. The Senate, after much debate, agreed 
to let Pliny proceed with the suit. However, the 
new emperor, Nerva, not wanting to rake up the 
past, prevented the case from going forward. 

Cornutus Tetullius spoke in the Senate on 
behalf of the women. He explained that even if no 
legal penalty would be exacted, Certus should be 
disgraced and stripped of his honors. The women 
wanted a truthful and accurate rendering of how 
Publicius Certus had sought the death penalty for 
Helvidius to curry favor with Domitian. They suc- 
ceeded at least insofar as Certus failed to become 

Anteia had three children, two of whom died in 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 9.13. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Domitian 10. 

[b] Antigone 

(third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Macedonia, Egypt, and Epirus 

married to a ruler 

Antigone married the deposed ruler of Epirus, Pyr- 
rhus (319-272 b.c.e.). The marriage assured aid to 
Pyrrhus from Antigone's mother, Berenice I. Ber- 
enice had married her own brother, Ptolemy I 
Soter, to become the second most powerful voice 
in Egypt. Pyrrhus had ruled Epirus while still a 
minor, but had been deposed in 302 b.c.e. and 
had fled to his brother-in-law Demetrius I in 
Macedonia. After having secured peace with Egypt, 
Demetrius had sent Pyrrhus to Egypt to cement 
friendly relations. 

Married, Antigone and Pyrrhus returned to 
Epirus well equipped with men and funds. Rather 
than war, Pyrrhus offered to rule jointly with 


Antistia Pollitta 

Neoptolemus, the usurper. Antigone learned of a 
plot by Neoptolemus to poison Pyrrhus from a 
woman named Phaenarete and informed her hus- 
band. Forewarned, Pyrrhus invited Neoptolemus 
to dinner and killed him. Antigone had a son, 
named Ptolemy after her father. Her husband built 
a city and named it Berenicis in her honor. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pyrrhus 4—6. 

Antistia ( I ) 

(second century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Antistia was the wife of the rich, arrogant, and 
powerful Appius Claudius Pulcher, who was con- 
sul in 143 b.c.e. and part of the reform faction 
around Tiberius and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus. 
She and Cornelia (2), the mother of the Grac- 
chi, were contemporaries. Antistia's daughter 
Claudia (2) married Tiberius. The marriage 
cemented a political alliance between her husband 
and son-in-law over agrarian reform. Another 
daughter, Claudia (3), became a Vestal Virgin. 
She used the power of her office to shield her 
father from destruction, therby enabling him to 
celebrate a disputed triumph for the defeat of the 
Salassi in Cisalpine Gaul. Antistia was the grand- 
mother, through her son, Appius Claudius Pul- 
cher, consul in 79 b.c.e., of the beautiful and 
infamous Clodia (2) and the brilliant, brash, 
amoral Publius Clodius Pulcher. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Tiberius Gracchus 

Antistia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
political victim 

Roman: Rome 

Antistia fell victim to an upper-class pattern of 
using serial marriages to move up the social and 
political ladder of power. In 86 b.c.e., her father, 
Publius Antistius, had been prosecutor against 
Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the Great) in a case of 
misappropriating public funds. He was so taken 

with Pompey s handling of his own defense that he 
sought him out as a son-in-law. The young Antistia 
and Pompey married. 

In 82, Antistius was killed in the Senate on 
orders of the younger Gaius Marius during the 
armed conflict between the Marian forces and 
Lucius Cornelius Sulla after the death of the elder 
Marius. Pompey served under Sulla. Sulla, no less 
impressed than Antistius had been years earlier, 
persuaded Pompey to marry Aemilia (2), the 
daughter of his wife Caecilia Metella (i). Pom- 
pey divorced Antistia. After the divorce, Antistia 
and her mother committed suicide. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 1.88. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pompeius 4.2—3; 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 60. 

[a] Antistia Pollitta 

(?-65 c.e.) Roman: Italy 
political victim 

Antistia Pollitta and her husband were rumored to 
have plotted an overthrow of the emperor Nero. 
She was the daughter of Lucius Antistius Vetus, 
consul with Nero in 55 c.e. Her husband was the 
wealthy and philosophically inclined Rubellius 
Plautus. Both could trace their lineage to the 
beginning of the empire: she to Mark Antony and 
the independent-minded Octavia (2), sister of the 
emperor Augustus, and he to Livia Drusilla, 
Augustus's powerful wife and Augusta in her own 

Rumors of Rubellius Plautus's ambition were 
circulated by enemies of the younger Agrippina, 
Nero's mother. It was said that Agrippina planned 
to remove Nero and install Plautus as emperor. 
There was hope that the rumors would effect a 
split between mother and son. Called upon to 
defend herself, however, Agrippina convinced her 
son of her unwavering allegiance. Nonetheless, 
reports of Plautus as a possible alternative to Nero 
did not cease. Alarmed, the emperor suggested 


Antonia (I) 

that Rubellius Plautus retire to his family estates in 
Asia where he could enjoy the life of contempla- 
tion. Antistia, along with a few of their friends, 
accompanied her husband. 

Given the situation, Antistia's father urged her 
husband to take up arms against the emperor. 
There was discontent on which he could capitalize, 
and he was about to suffer the consequences of 
treason regardless of his behavior. Plautus refused. 
He had no taste for war, even though he under- 
stood it was only a matter of time before Nero had 
him killed. Perhaps he also hoped that if he 
remained passive, Nero would spare Antistia and 
their children. 

In 62 c.e., Antistia stood by as a centurion 
beheaded her husband and sent his head to Nero 
in Rome. Thereafter, Antistia remained in mourn- 
ing. In 65 Nero ordered the suicide of her father, 
who had retired with Antistia to his estate in For- 
miae. Antistia went to Nero in Naples to plead for 
her fathers life. He refused even to receive her. 
Informed that there was no hope, her father 
divided his money among his slaves and ordered 
them to remove all furnishings except for three 
couches in one room. Antistia, Antistius Vetus, 
and his mother-in-law Sextia (2) severed their 
veins. Covered with a single cloth, they were car- 
ried to the baths, where they died. Antistia was the 
last to expire. Nero had the Senate indict them 
after their death. 


Tacitus. Annaks 14.22, 58-59; 16.10-11. 

Marshall, A. J. "Ladies at Law: The Role of Women in the 
Roman Civil Courts." In Studies in Latin Literature and 
Roman History, ed. by C. Deroux. Brussels, Belgium: 
Latomus, 1989, pp. 351-352. 

Antonia (I) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
captured by pirates 

Roman: Rome 

Antonia suffered the dangers of sea travel in the 
ancient world. She was captured by pirates. More 
fortunate than many others, she was ransomed by 
her father Marcus Antonius, a famous orator and 
consul in 99 b.c.e., who only a year earlier had 

celebrated a triumph for defeating the Cilician 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pompeius 24. 

Antonia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
divorced wife 

Roman: Rome 

Antonia was divorced by Mark Antony, who 
became convinced that she was having an affair 
with his friend Publius Cornelius Dolabella. She 
was Antonys second wife, as well as his cousin. 
Antonia, the daughter of Gaius Antonius, coconsul 
with Marcus Tullius Cicero in 63 b.c.e., would not 
have been the only woman of the late republic to 
find Dolabella a desirable lover. The third husband 
of Cicero's daughter Tullia (2), he was notoriously 
attractive, considered quite dissolute and, chroni- 
cally short of funds, a well-known womanizer. 

Antonia and Antony had a daughter, Antonia 
(3), who married the wealthy Pythodorus from 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Antonius 9 . 

Antonia (3) 

(c. 54/49 b.c.e.-?) 
political wife 

Roman: Rome and Tralles 

Antonia, born between 54 and 49 b.c.e., was the 
daughter of Mark Antony and his second wife 
Antonia (2). It was intended that their daughter 
marry Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, the son of a fel- 
low triumvir. However, as her father's alliance with 
Cleopatra VII focused his political ambitions in 
the East, an alliance became Antonia and 
Pythodorus of Tralles, a wealthy commercial city 
in Asia Minor, became more desirable. They mar- 
ried in 34 b.c.e. 

Antonia and Pythodorus had a daughter, 
Pythodoris, who married the ruler of Pontus, 
Polemon, and later Archelaus, who ruled Cappa- 
docia. Antonia died quite young, but her daughter 
ruled Pontus during the reign of Augustus. 


Antonia the Elder 


Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 10-11. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 113. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 113. 

[a] Antonia (4) 

(28 -66 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player; possible conspirator 

Antonia, born in 28 C.E., was the only child of the 
emperor Claudius and his second wife Aelia Pae- 
tina. Her position as the emperor's daughter 
opened the possibility of succession for her hus- 
bands. She could become the emperor's wife, if she 

Antonia married Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, 
the son of Marcus Licinius Crassus Frugi, consul 
in 27 c.e., and Scribonia, about whom we only 
know her name. Antonia's husband belonged to 
the group of powerful aristocrats who opposed 
Claudius's wife Valeria Messallina. By virtue of 
his own lineage cojoined with that of Antonia, 
Pompeius became a serious contender to succeed 
Claudius and challenged the primacy of Messalli- 
na's son, Britannicus, as the most favored heir. By 
46 or early 47, Messallina convinced Claudius that 
Pompeius was dangerous. Both he and his parents 
were killed. 

The widowed Antonia married Faustus Corne- 
lius Sulla Felix, the lethargic half brother of Mes- 
sallina, who posed no threat to the latter's 
ambitions. Sulla and Antonia outlived both Mes- 
sallina and Claudius and for a time flourished. 
Sulla became consul in 52. However, in 58 he was 
banished and later killed by the emperor Nero. 

In 66, Antonia was herself killed. Possibly she 
was a participant in the Pisonian conspiracy (65 
c.e.) against Nero. Gaius Calpurnius Piso, the 
ineffectual figurehead of the conspiracy, suppos- 
edly promised to divorce his wife and marry Anto- 
nia after Nero's assassination. They were to meet in 
the temple of Ceres on the day of the planned 

assassination and proceed to the camp of the Prae- 
torian Guard where Piso would be proclaimed 
emperor. The marriage would have clothed Piso in 
Antonia's lineage, and she would at last become the 
wife of an emperor. 

Perhaps, however, she did not seek the role of 
emperor's wife and was not even among the con- 
spirators. After Nero caused the death of his wife 
Poppaea Sabina (2), he was said to have asked 
Antonia to marry him in an effort to repair his 
damaged reputation. Only after she refused did he 
order her death. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Claudius 27.1—2. 

. The Lives of the Caesars: Nero 35.4. 

Tacitus. Annales 13.23, 47; 14.57; 15.53. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 123. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, p. 172. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 113. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 115. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, passim. 

[a] Antonia the Elder 

(39 b.c.e.— ?) Roman: Rome 
political player 

Antonia, elder daughter of Mark Antony and the 
independent-minded Octavia (2), sister of the 
emperor Augustus, grew up in a household filled 
with children from her parents' multiple marriages. 
Her parents had married to cement the Pact of 
Brundisium in 40 b.c.e. that established a Roman 
state divided between her father and her uncle. 
The pact failed, leading to a renewal of civil war 
that pitted Roman against Roman and left many 
children of the senatorial class orphans and with- 
out clear claim or access to family or wealth. 

Antonia was born in 39 b.c.e., when her par- 
ents were in Greece negotiating with her uncle 
Octavian. He sought Antony's aid in a campaign 


Antonia the Younger 

against Sextus Pompeius Magnus, the son of 
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) 
and leader of the remaining republican forces. 
After her parents' divorce in 32, Antonia and her 
younger sister Antonia stayed with their mother 
in a household that also included the three chil- 
dren from Octavia's previous marriage to Gaius 
Claudius Marcellus, an opponent of Caesar and 
supporter of Pompey, who had died in 40 b.c.e. 
After Antony's defeat at Actium in 3 1 , and his sub- 
sequent suicide in 30, Octavia's household grew to 
include the son of Antony's deceased wife, Fulvia 
(2), and the son and daughter of Antony and 
Cleopatra VII. 

Antonia married Lucius Domitius Ahenobar- 
bus, to whom she had been affianced since about 
24 b.c.e. Ahenobarbus, of an old republican fam- 
ily, has been characterized, like many of his ances- 
tors, as arrogant, cruel, addicted to chariot racing, 
and rich. He held the consulship in 16 b.c.e. and 
died in old age in 25 c.e. 

It was Antonia's only marriage. She had three 
children, all of whom took a place in the politics of 
their time: Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, consul 
in 32 c.e. and father of the future emperor Nero; 
and two forceful women, Domitia, wife of Gaius 
Sallustius Crispus Passienus, and Domitia Lepida, 
the mother of Valeria Messallina. 


Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 113. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 113. 

Syme, R. Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1986, passim. 

[b] Antonia the Younger 

(January 31, 36 B.c.E.-May 1, 37 
c.e.) Roman: Italy 
Augusta; power broker 

Antonia was an enigmatic woman who made diffi- 
cult, and sometimes even inexplicable, life choices. 
In many ways Antonia epitomized the ideal Roman 

matrona. She was a woman of strong character and 
impeccable morality; she was intelligent and mar- 
ried only once. Twice she was named Augusta. She 
refused the title offered by her grandson Gaius 
Caligula when he became emperor 37 c.e. After 
her death the title was again bestowed, this time by 
her son, the emperor Claudius. 

Antonia was the younger daughter of Octavia 
(2) and niece of Augustus. She was born January 
31, 36 b.c.e., when her father, Mark Antony, was 
in Egypt with Cleopatra VII. After the civil war 
and Antony's death in 30, Antonia lived in her 
mother's household with the children of her par- 
ents' multiple marriages, including those of her 
father and Cleopatra. 

Antonia married Nero Claudius Drusus, the 
son of LrviA Drusilla, and the stepson of the 
emperor Augustus, in 16. Drusus was a popular 
young leader, and his marriage with Antonia made 
him a likely successor to Augustus. After Drusus's 
unexpected death while campaigning in Germany 
in 9 b.c.e., Antonia remained a widow despite her 
youth and the urging of Augustus to remarry. She 
lived with Livia who helped raise her children: 
Germanicus Julius Caesar, Livia Julia Claudia Liv- 
illa, and Claudius, the future emperor. 

Her eldest son Germanicus became as popular 
as had been his father and married the elder Agrip- 
pina, a granddaughter of Augustus. By then, 
Tiberius, Antonia's brother-in-law, was emperor. 
Germanicus, who was the most likely heir to 
Tiberius, died as had his father before him, cam- 
paigning in Germany. Agrippina brought his ashes 
back to Rome convinced that Tiberius had arranged 
her husband's death. Inexplicably, Antonia made 
no appearance at the public honors for her dead 
son. Nor did Tiberius or Livia. Their absence fed 
rumors of conspiracy. 

Antonia's daughter Livilla married Drusus Julius 
Caesar, the son of Tiberius and his first wife, Vip- 
sania Agrippina, in 4 c.e. Livilla and Drusus had 
a daughter, Julia (8), and twin sons, Germanicus 
and Tiberius Gemellus. Antonia's daughter was 
later widowed and left with a grown daughter and 
one living son, Tiberius Gemellus. 


Antonia the Younger 



Antonia the Younger and her son Claudius 

(For Antonia the Younger: Date: 41 C.E.-45 C.E. 1001. 1. 22213, Archives, American Numismatic Society. 
For Claudius: Date: 51 C.E.-52 C.E. 1001. 1. 30042, Archives, American Numismatic Society) 

Antonia watched the struggle that developed 
between her widowed daughter, Livilla, and her 
widowed daughter-in-law, Agrippina, as each com- 
peted to secure her own son as successor to Tiberius. 
They became the center of factions that gave no 
quarter. Agrippina surrounded herself with an elite 
circle of the Senate, and Livilla joined forces with 
her lover, Lucius Aelius Sejanus, the prefect of the 
Praetorian Guard and the most powerful man in 
Rome in the years after the departure of Emperor 
Tiberius for Capri. Antonia stepped in when catas- 
trophe occurred. 

Agrippina was forced into exile and suicide. 
Two of her grandsons, Nero Julius Caesar and 
Drusus Julius Caesar, died; the former was exe- 
cuted, and the latter starved himself to death 
while imprisoned. Antonia took the three remain- 
ing children of Germanicus and Agrippina — the 
future emperor Gaius Caligula and his sisters, 
Julia Drusilla (i) and Julia Livilla — into her 

Certainly Antonia must have been affected by 
the exile of her daughter-in-law and the death of 
her two grandsons. She must also have known of 

her daughter's alliance with Sejanus and the harm 
that would befall her if he fell from power. None- 
theless, Antonia arranged to smuggle a letter to 
Tiberius in Capri, accusing Sejanus of unknown 
charges that may have led to his arrest and death 
by strangulation. Tiberius placed Livilla in the cus- 
tody of Antonia, and she witnessed Livilla's suicide 
by starvation. 

Although both her daughter and daughter-in- 
law were dead, her son Claudius and grandson 
Gaius Caligula lived, and Antonia remained a sig- 
nificant person of influence and wealth. She sup- 
ported the political career of Lucius Vitellius who 
came from an equestrian background, gained 
power in the reign of her grandson Gaius Caligula, 
and was consul three times. She also fostered the 
career of the future emperor Tiberius Flavius 

Antonia maintained extensive connections in 
the East and owned a great deal of property in 
Egypt. Berenice (i), the daughter of Salome and 
niece of Herod the Great, was one of her clients 
and friends. Berenice and her young son, Marcus 
Julius Agrippa, lived in Rome during the reign of 


Antonia Tryphaena 

Tiberius, and Agrippa stayed in Antonias house- 
hold for a few years. Later Antonia came to his aid 
and lent him 300,000 drachmas to pay a debt 
owed to the imperial treasury. 

Antonia died on May 1 in 37 c.e., only months 
after her grandson became emperor. It was just as 
well. Caligula's behavior became increasingly 
bizarre, and in 38 he ordered the execution of 
Antonias grandson, Tiberius Gemellus. Rumors 
spread that he had driven Antonia to commit sui- 
cide by his ill-treatment or that he had had her 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 58.3.9. 

Josephus. Antiquitates Judaic ae (Jewish Antiquities) 18.156, 
161-67, 181 ff., 204, 237. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 1.1; 
10.1; 15.2; 23.2; 24.1. 

. The Lives of the Caesars: Claudius 1.6; 3.2; 4.1—4; 


Tacitus. Annates 2.43, 84; 3.3; 4.3; 10, 12, 39-41. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, passim. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 138-139. 

Ferrill, A. Caligula: Emperor of Rome. London: Thames and 
Hudson, 1 99 1 , passim. 

Leon, Harry J. The Jews of Ancient Rome. Philadelphia: Jew- 
ish Publication Society of America, 1960, p. 20. 

Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, passim. 

. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames and Hud- 
son, 1976, passim. 

Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiberius. New York: Barnes 
and Noble, 1931, passim. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 113. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 114. 

[b] Antonia Tryphaena 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Asia Minor 

Antonia Tryphaena was the daughter of Pythodo- 
ris and Polemon I of Pontus, a kingdom in north- 

western AsiaMinor; she was the great-granddaughter 
of Mark Antony and his second wife, Antonia 
(2). Antonia Tryphaena married Cotys, the ruler of 

When Cotys was murdered, Antonia accused 
his uncle Rhascuporis of committing the crime in 
order to annex her husbands territory. Antonia 
gave testimony at the trial held before the Roman 
Senate in 18 c.e. Rhascuporis was found guilty 
and banished. 

Antonia left her three sons in Rome to be raised 
with the future emperor Gaius Caligula, and she 
went to Cyzicus on the island of Arctonnesus in 
the Black Sea. Very wealthy she used her money to 
pay for civic improvements including dredging the 
channel between the city and the mainland. She 
also became a priestess of Livia Drusilla in whose 
household in Rome resided her children. 

After her father died, Antonia returned to Pon- 
tus and ruled as guardian and regent for her son 
Polemon II. Her head and name appeared on the 
obverse of coins in accord with Pontus's status as a 
client kingdom of Rome. 


Tacitus. Annales 2.64—67. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 10-11. 
Magie, David. Roman Rule in Asia Minor, to the End of 

the Third Century afier Christ. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J.: 

Princeton University Press, 1950, p. 513. 
Marshall, A. J. "Ladies at Law: The Role of Women in the 

Roman Civil Courts." In Studies in Latin Literature and 

Roman History, ed. by C. Deroux. Brussels, Belgium: 

Latomus, 1989, p. 355. 


(?-sixth century c.e.) 
political actor 

Roman: Constantinople 

Antonina was clever, and she possessed outstand- 
ing organizing abilities that furthered her hus- 
band's military campaigns and enhanced their 
accumulation of personal wealth. Her husband, 
Belisarius, was Justinian's leading general and she 
was an ally, possibly a confidant, and, on occasion, 
an adversary of the Augusta Theodora. 



The two couples, Antonina and Belisarius and 
Theodora and Justinian, made a formidable four- 
some whose impact shaped the empire during its 
last reach for territorial imperium. Antoninas grand- 
father and father were charioteers; her mother was 
an actress, which Romans not only considered 
declasse, but synonymous with promiscuity and, 
especially for women, prostitution. Like Theodora, 
Antoninas early life probably included a number of 
liaisons, some of them resulting in children. A son 
Photius is known. She also had a daughter Joannina 
who was born after Antonina married Belisarius. 

Belisarius was a Goth, born in the Balkans 
somewhere between Thrace and Illyria. He became 
a military bodyguard under the reign of Justin, 
Justinian's predecessor. Belisarius and Antonina 
encountered the same legal barrier as Justinian and 
Theodora over forming a contractual marriage. A 
law enacted under Constantine the Great in the 
fourth century forbade a marriage contract between 
a man of senatorial rank and an actress. Since mar- 
riage contracts were prenuptial arrangements of 
property and inheritance was a major means for 
gaining new wealth, older men were vulnerable, 
and families needed legal protection against hasty 
marriages and lost fortunes. Justin, in his waning 
days, lifted the ban for whomsoever the emperor 
chose. He had waited until after the death of his 
wife Euphemia (i), who was herself not well born 
but who adopted the prejudices of the society to 
which she gained admission. 

Antonina accompanied Belisarius on his mili- 
tary campaigns. She was his closest confident, 
gifted strategist, and skillful organizer. It was 
reported that in 533, on a longer-than-expected 
voyage to Africa, when the lack of wind resulted in 
a 16-day trip to Sicily, the water carried by the fleet 
spoiled, except on Belisarius's ship. Antonina had 
had the foresight to store the water in glass jars and 
bury them in sand in the dark ship's hold to retard 
the growth of mold. 

Antonina was with Belisarius during the siege of 
Rome three years later. In Naples she worked with 
her husband's secretary Procopius to assemble a 
fleet loaded with grain and soldiers for delivery to 
Rome through Ostia, its port city. The final lap of 

the trip proved particularly difficult. Not only were 
the oxen that were to pull the barges up the shallow 
Tiber to Rome exhausted, but the road along one 
side of the river was held by the enemy and the 
other was too narrow for the animals. 

Antonina and the fleet commanders evolved a 
scheme. They outfitted small boats with fences 
made of planks to create a holding area for the 
grain. After loading the grain, archers and sailors 
boarded. The small boats were able to navigate the 
river and when the wind failed, the sailors rowed. 
On the narrow road, another part of the army 
marched parallel with the flotilla to protect it. 
Grain and troops arrived safely in Rome. 

Antonina remained in Italy until 540 and 
returned to Constantinople with her husband. She 
received the title of patricia for service to the 
empire. She also formed a relationship with Theo- 
dora, possibly based less on friendship than mutual 
service. In 536, at the request of Theodora, Anto- 
nina and her husband had worked to depose the 
Roman bishop Silverius who had recently assumed 
office and refused to reinstate Anthemius, a Mono- 
physite, as bishop of Constantinople. The time was 
rife with controversy over the nature of Christ, and 
the Monophysites, who supported the single divine 
nature of Christ, counted Theodora among their 
most steadfast allies. Their candidate had been 
Vigilius and they looked to Theodora and her con- 
nections to reverse their defeat. 

The women also shared a concern over John the 
Cappadocian, Praetorian Prefect in the East and 
second in power only to the emperor. A man with- 
out education or manners, he had a genius for effi- 
ciently collecting revenue by whatever means 
necessary to finance Justinian's wars and building 
programs. Theodora hated his influence and Anto- 
nina feared a rival to her husband. In 541, the two 
women initiated a complicated intrigue. Antonina 
sought to gain the trust of Euphemia (2), the 
young daughter of John who he adored. Antonina 
used their newfound intimacy to share informa- 
tion about her husband's dissatisfaction with the 
emperor Justinian. Euphemia responded, probing 
Antonina for details. As Antonina and Theodora 
had anticipated, Euphemia took the intelligence to 



her father. Through Euphemia, John arranged a 
midnight meeting beneath the city wall in April or 
May 541. Theodora arranged for a group of loyal- 
ists to overhear the seditious intent and inform 
Justinian. John lost his position and was eventually 
exiled, stripped of his wealth, and imprisoned. 

Antonina found support from Theodora at a 
critical point in her life. When she was about 60 
years old, Antonina became passionately attached 
to a young man named Theodosius, who her hus- 
band had adopted as a son. Her passion far exceeded 
her discretion and she, who had maintained a work- 
ing relationship with her husband for many years 
whatever the amatory pursuits of either, forced a 
public confrontation. Her husband behaved as 
expected and threatened Theodosius with death. 
Theodora hid the young lover and, moreover, 
arranged for Antonina to continue the liaison. 

Theodora also fostered the relationship between 
Antonina and her husband. After Antonina and 
Belisarius quarreled in 543, Justinian relieved 
Belisarius of his command and demanded that he 
deposit in government accounts the very consider- 
able personal wealth he had accumulated as a result 
of his military campaigns in the East. Justinian and 
Theodora, always pressed for funds to finance their 
reign, had long resented the vast fortune that 
Belisarius had accumulated during his military 
career. Justinian and Theodora also refused to see 
him when he came to the palace. Theodora 
informed him, however, that his command and 
money would be restored if he mended relations 
with Antonina, and so he did. However, Justinian 
also ordered him to finance his next campaign at 
his own expense. 

Nor was that the only effort to gain Belisarius 
and Antonina's fortune. Photius severed his rela- 
tionship with his mother over her liaison with The- 
odosius, and Joannina became sole heir to their 
immense fortune. Theodora sought to marry Joan- 
nina to Anastasius, one of her three grandsons, 
who were the children of her daughter, born before 
her marriage with Justinian. The boy may have 
been the son of Anastasius, the brother of the for- 
mer emperor Anastasius, and a quite suitable part- 
ner for Antonina's daughter. Antonina, however, 

opposed the match and, with the agreement of her 
husband, delayed it rather than openly confront 
Theodora, although the reasons for the opposition 
have never been clear. Not to be outmaneuvered, 
Theodora moved the two young people into the 
palace where they lived together. They were said to 
also have fallen in love and when Joannina reached 
marriageable age, they wed. 

Antonina again accompanied Belisarius to Italy 
in the summer of 544 when Rome was under siege 
by the Ostrogoths. She remained in Italy for the 
next four years, during a series of inconclusive 
campaigns plagued by insufficient troops and sup- 
plies. In 548, Belisarius sent her to Constantinople 
to implore Theodora to send him reinforcements, 
but she found that Theodora had died. Less than a 
year after the death of Theodora, in the early part 
of 549, Antonina removed Joannina from the pal- 
ace and separated her from her husband. Her rea- 
sons have remained elusive. 

Antonina outlived her husband and Justinian, 
both of whom died in 565. Last heard of, in her 
80s, she was living with Vigilantia, the sister of 


Procopius. Gothic Wars. V. v. 5, xviii. 18, 43; VI. iv. 6, 14, 
20; vii. 4 ff, 15; VII. xix, 7, 30; xxviii. 4; xxx. 2, 3, 26. 

. Persian Wars. I. xxv. 13 ff, 23. 

. Secret History, i. 16, 17, 25-29, 31, 34-36, 38-39, 

42; ii. 1-5, 14, 16-17; iii. 2, 4, 7, 12, 15-18; iv. 18-19, 
23, 38; v. 14, 20, 23-24, 27, 33. 

dal Wars. Ill xii. 2; xiii. 23-24; xix 1 1; xx. 1. 

Bury, J. B. Later History of the Roman Empire from the Death 
ofTheodosisus to the Death of Justinian. Vol. II, 233—242, 
247-249. New York: Dover Publications, 1938. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. III. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 91-93. 

[a] Antye 

(third century b.c.e.) Greek: Tegea 

Antye was a well-known and well-respected poet of 
the third century b.c.e. Born in Tegea, a city on 
the southern Greek peninsula, she was said to have 


Apama (2) 

written in the traditional form and to have mir- 
rored Homer in her grammar and sentence struc- 
ture. However, she was attracted to the bucolic 
themes that were characteristic of the emerging 
traditions of the period after the death of Alexan- 
der the Great. 

Although Antyes lyric poems have been lost, 19 
Doric epigrams are extant. They are grave in tone 
and restrained in style. Her quatrains, possibly 
used as funerary inscriptions, are sensitive without 
being sentimental. 


Lyra Graeca, v. 2, p. 241. 

Der Kleine Pauly; Lexikon der Antike, ed. by Konrat Julius 
Furchtegott and Walther Sontheimer. Stuttgart, Ger- 
many: A. Druckenmuller, 1984, p. 417. 

Fantham, Elaine, et al. Women in the Classical World. New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 166. 

Geoghegan, D. Antye: A Critical Edition with Commentary. 
Rome: Edizioni dell-Ateneo & Bizzarri, 1979, passim. 

Gow, Andrew S. E, and Denys L. Page. The Greek Anthol- 
ogy: Hellenistic Epigrams. 2 vols. Cambridge, England: 
Cambridge University Press, 1965, pp. 89 ff. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 78. 

[a] Apama (I) 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 
Persian: Persia and Antioch 
progenitor ofSeleucid dynasty 

Apama was the ancestor of the Seleucids, who 
ruled over portions of Asia for some 250 years. Her 
father, the Bactrian Spitamenes, organized a seri- 
ous revolt in Sogdiana against Alexander the Great. 
Defeated in 328 b.c.e., he fled into the territory of 
his allies, the Messagetae. They cut off his head and 
sent it to Alexander as a token of submission. 

Apama, however, survived and became one of 
the 80 elite Persian women married to Alexanders 
Macedonian officers at Susa in 324 in an effort to 
erase the distinction between the conquered and 
conqueror. Her husband, Seleucus I, was com- 
mander of the Silver Shields, which guarded the 
right flank of Alexander's army. After Alexander s 
death, Seleucus and Apama were the only couple 
not to divorce. 

Seleucus conquered Babylon, Media, and Susi- 
ana to establish the Seleucid Empire. He named a 
number of cities after Apama. In 298, for strategic 
reasons, he also married the much younger Stra- 
tonice (2), the daughter of Demetrius I, ruler of 
Macedonia. According to the ancient sources, 
Apama's son Antiochus I fell in love with Stra- 
tonice. Apama regained her former position in 
293, when her husband allowed her son and Stra- 
tonice to marry. 

Seleucus may have decided that he could no 
longer govern his eastern provinces from Antioch. 
He made Antiochus his partner and as coruler, 
sent him with Stratonice to govern the eastern ter- 
ritories. Antiochus I eventually succeeded his father 
and with Stratonice secured a dynasty that ruled 
parts of Asia Minor for over two centuries. 


Appian. Syrian Wars 59—62. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Demetrius 38. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, 1951, pp. 43, 54. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 118. 

Apama (2) 

(third century b.c.e.) 


Greek: Cyrene 

Apama ruled Cyrene, in North Africa, after the 
death of her husband. She was overthrown by her 
daughter. Apama was the daughter of Stratonice 
(2) and Antiochus I, ruler of the Seleucid Empire 
in Asia. In 275 b.c.e., she married Magas, the ruler 
of Cyrene and the stepbrother of Ptolemy II Phila- 
delphus of Egypt. She had a daughter, Berenice II 
of Cyrene, whom her husband affianced to the 
future Ptolemy III to secure a union of Egypt and 
Cyrene. Magas died in 258, and Apama became 
the ruler of Cyrene. Antigonus Gonatus, ruler of 
Macedonia and an enemy of Egypt, sent his half 
brother, the handsome Demetrius, to make an 
offer of marriage to Berenice and to foil a union 
with Egypt. 



Apama welcomed Demetrius. She favored the 
house of the Seleucids from which she came, 
against a union with Egypt which was generally 
opposed also by the independent-minded Cyreni- 
cians. There is some confusion as to whether 
Apama married Demetrius or became his lover 
after he married her daughter. In any case, Ber- 
enice, afraid of losing power, led a rebellion in 
which Demetrius was killed in Apama's bedroom 
as she tried to shield him with her body. 

Apama's life was spared by her daughter, and 
nothing further is known about her. 


Justin. Epitome 26.3. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 

London: Methuen, 1951, pp. 84, 138. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 131 ff. 


Polybius. Histories 13.6-7; 18.17. 


(third-second century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Greek: Sparta 

Apega was collaborator, supporter, and agent for 
the reform policies of her husband, Nab is, ruler of 
Sparta (207-192 b.c.e.). Nabis canceled debts, 
redistributed property, and extended citizenship to 
select indigenous and foreign residents. Apega 
traveled to Argos to collect gold jewelry and cloth 
from women to provide funds to support her hus- 
band's reforms. 

The opposition accused Nabis of prosecuting 
the wealthy and confiscating land. They also 
charged Nabis with seizing their wives for the plea- 
sure of his supporters and mercenaries. A curious 
tale that suggests the determination of Nabis, and 
perhaps Apega, to extract wealth from the rich has 
survived. Nabis supposedly constructed a replica of 
Apega. With the replica at his side, he summoned 
wealthy men and asked for contributions. Any who 
refused were required to take the hand of the rep- 
lica, whose clothing concealed sharp nails. Using a 
spring mechanism, the replica embraced the recal- 
citrant donors and drove nails into their flesh. Con- 
tributions were usually forthcoming and those who 
refused were killed by the replica of Apega. 


(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Apicata took revenge on her husband and his lover. 
Her lineage is unknown. Her husband was the 
infamous Lucius Aelius Sejanus, prefect of the 
Praetorian Guard and confidant to the emperor 
Tiberius. After Tiberius went to Capri in 27 c.e., 
Sejanus became the main conduit for information 
to the emperor and consequently the most power- 
ful man in the city. 

Sejanus collected a discontented faction around 
him and divorced Apicata when it appeared possi- 
ble that he might marry his lover and coconspira- 
tor, Livia Julia Claudia Livilla, the widowed 
daughter-in-law and niece of Tiberius. In October 
of 31, however, Sejanus fell out of favor and was 
charged with crimes sufficiently heinous to cause 
his immediate execution. Apicata's eldest son 
Strabo was killed six days later, and Apicata com- 
mitted suicide the next week. The two younger 
children, Aelia Iunilla and Capito Aelianus, were 
strangled in December on orders of the Senate so 
that Sejanus might leave no heirs. 

Before her death, Apicata extracted revenge. 
She sent a letter to Tiberius accusing her husband 
and Livilla of poisoning Livilla's husband, Drusus 
Julius Caesar, eight years earlier in 23. Drusus had 
been Tiberius's son. His death was a critical turn- 
ing point in Tiberius's life now compounded by 
the discovery of the conspiracy led by Sejanus in 
whom he had placed his trust. He took the accusa- 
tion seriously enough to extract a confirmation of 
the murder in confessions gathered under torture 
from Livilla's doctor and a slave even though it was 
already some eight years after the event. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 58.11.5—7. 
Tacitus. Annales 4.3. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, p. 147. 



Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, pp. 161, 201, 274; notes 71, 72. 

Syme, Ronald. Tacitus. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1958, p. 402. 

[b] AppuleiaVarilla 

(first century B.c.E.-first century c.e.) 
Roman: Rome 

convicted adulterer 

Appuleia Varilla was indicted on charges of trea- 
son and adultery in 17 c.e. She was one of several 
people also accused of slander against the emperor. 
Her father was Sextus Appuleius, consul in 29 
b.c.e. and proconsul of Asia; her mother was 
Quinctilla, a niece of Octavia (i), the half sister 
of Augustus. The name of Appuleia's husband is 
unknown. The name of her lover, however, was 

Appuleia was accused of defaming the new 
emperor Tiberius and his mother Livia Drusilla 
as well as Augustus, only recently deified after his 
death two years earlier in 15 c.e. Tiberius 
informed the Senate that neither he nor his 
mother wished to pursue the charges of slander or 
treason. The apparently less frivolous charge of 
adultery stood. If convicted Appuleia could have 
lost half her dowry and a third of her property, 
and could also have been banished. Tiberius, 
however, suggested that she simply be handed 
over to her family and be removed at least 200 
milestones from Rome. Her lover was banned 
from living in Italy or Africa. 


Tacitus. Annales 2.50. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, p. 197. 

Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiberius. New York: Barnes 
and Noble, 1 93 1 , passim. 

Marshall, A. J. "Women on Trial before the Roman Sen- 
ate." Classical Views 34 (1990): 333-366, p. 342. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 33. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, passim. 


(first century c.e.) 
murder victim 

Roman: Rome 

Apronia was probably murdered by her husband, 
the praetor Plautius Silvanus, sometime in 24 c.e. 
for unknown reasons. She died by falling or being 
thrown out of a window in her husband's house. 
Her father Lucius Apronius, who had been a legate 
to the emperor's adopted son Germanicus Julius 
Caesar, quickly brought Silvanus up on charges 
before the emperor Tiberius. Silvanus claimed that 
Apronia must have committed suicide. He had 
been fast asleep at the crucial time, and moreover, 
he suffered from spells inflicted upon him by his 
long-divorced first wife, Fabia Numantina, whom 
he was in the process of suing. 

Tiberius visited the scene of the crime. He 
examined the room and window where the event 
had occurred and found evidence that Apronia had 
been forcefully ejected. He referred the case to the 
Senate. Before the case was heard, Urgulania, the 
grandmother of Silvanus and a close friend of 
Livia Drusilla, the mother ofTiberius, sent Sil- 
vanus a dagger. Urgulania, a formidable woman 
whose arrogance was backed by her influence, left 
Silvanus little choice. After a fruitless attempt at 
suicide, Silvanus arranged for someone to open his 
arteries. With his death the charges against his first 
wife were dismissed. 


Tacitus. Annales 4.22. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 10. 

[a] Arcadia 

(400^44 c.e.) Roman: Constantinople 
political actor and celibate Christian 

Arcadia was one of three young women, all daugh- 
ters of Augusta Aelia Eudoxia and her husband, 
the Eastern emperor Arcadius, who swore to 
remain virgins and serve Christ. Led by their older 
sister, Pulcheria, Arcadia and Marina took a vow 
that freed them from unwanted offers of marriage 



and pressure to marry and also limited the circle 
that dominated their brother the emperor Theodo- 
sius II, during his long reign from 408—450. 

Arcadia's mother died in the autumn of 404 and 
her father four years later in the spring of 408 
when her brother, Theodosius II, was only seven 
years old. Anthemius, an elderly Praetorian Prefect 
of the East, assumed the regency. The education of 
Arcadia and her siblings was in the hands of a 
young eunuch Antiochus, who also supervised the 
imperial household. 

When Pulcheria was 14 in 413, she assumed 
control. Leading Arcadia and Marina in a public 
display, she declared their dedication to virginity 
and their brother's rule. Their oath, inscribed on 
the altar in the Great Church in Constantinople, 
eliminated the possibility that one of them would 
marry and introduce into the family a husband 
and new kin that might include a rival to their 
brother. It also established their place in the reli- 
gious politics that dominated the day. As virgins 
above reproach, they aligned with Mary, Mother of 
God, and claimed a voice in the church. 

In July 414, Pulcheria became Augusta and 
regent for her brother. She set a somber atmo- 
sphere in the household. Arcadia, Marina, and the 
young emperor fasted twice a week, prayed, and 
read from the scriptures. Their version of a virtu- 
ous life contrasted with the more robust lifestyle of 
their mother, who had enjoyed the pleasures of 
food and clothing. It also echoed the rhetorical 
ideals of the republic and early empire. Not only 
did they dress modestly and eschew cosmetics, but 
they spent time weaving. In this deeply Christian 
environment, they also provided aid for the poor 
and sick and sheltered the homeless. 

Arcadia and Marina were devoted to Pulcheria 
and followed her lead in both religion and politics. 
Orthodox Christians, they held to the belief that 
Christ was of two natures, divine and human, 
cojoined yet separate. They fervently believed that 
Mary was Mother of God [Theotokos) and rejected 
any suggestion that diminished her status to 
Mother of Christ (Christotokos) . 

Although Arcadia remained in her sister and 
brother's shadow, she was not without an indepen- 


dent sphere of influence and power. She was inde- 
pendently wealthy, owning properties in the 
suburbs and provinces that were inherited from 
her parents or given to her by her brother, and 
from which she drew fresh food and income. Since 
she had access to both Pulcheria and Theodosius, 
supplicants sought her out, men as well as women, 
and dignitaries sent to Constantinople on missions 
from elsewhere in the empire, especially from the 
East, viewed her as an important personage. 

She was a partner in Pulcheria's opposition to 
Nestorius, the bishop of Constantinople. Nesto- 
rius had become bishop on April 10, 428, with the 
tacit, if not active, endorsement of the imperial 
clique. He was an impolitic man who, whatever 
the sincerity of his beliefs, failed to comprehend 
that in his position, diplomacy was the better part 
of virtue. From the pulpit he denounced women's 
engagement with the affairs of state and church 
and initiated a personal attack against Pulcheria. 
Inflamed, Pulcheria organized her forces, among 
whom were her sisters. Arcadia was included in the 
flurry of letters from worthy people, especially 
bishops, in the major cities of the empire, who 
supported or opposed Nestorius. Her support for 
Pulcheria was never in question. 

Arcadia moved out of the palace with Pulcheria 
after her brother married Eudoxia. Although she 
owned houses in the city, she stayed most of the 
time with Pulcheria in one of her sister's houses. 

Arcadia died a virgin. 

Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica IX. 1. 1—5. 

Theophanus. Chronicle. AM 5905. 

Holum, Kenneth. Theodosian Empresses: Women and Impe- 
rial Dominion in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: University of 
California Press, 1982. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 129-130. 

[b] Archidamia 

(third century b.c.e.) Greek: Sparta 

Archidamia and her daughter Agesistrata were 
the two wealthiest women in Sparta during the 

Archippe (2) 

middle decades of the third century b.c.e. Respec- 
tively the grandmother and mother of the reform- 
ist king Agis IV, they used wealth and position to 
secure political and economic reform. 

With friends and kin, including Agiatis, the 
king's wife, Archidamia formed a political alli- 
ance that supported land redistribution and the 
reduction and cancellation of debts. The reform- 
ers met strong opposition from those who had 
vastly increased their wealth through inheritance 
and foreclosure during the preceding decades, 
when a declining citizen population found it 
increasingly difficult to pay mortgage install- 
ments. In 241 b.c.e., after Agis initiated his land 
and debt policies, he was overthrown and killed. 
Archidamia and her daughter Agesistrata were 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Agesilaus 4.2; 
7.5-7; 9.5-6; 20.7. 

Mosse, Claude. "Women in the Spartan Revolutions of 
the Third Century B.C." In Women's History and Ancient 
History, ed. by Sarah B. Pomeroy. Chapel Hill: Univer- 
sity of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 138-153. 

Archippe (I) 

(sixth— fifth century b.c.e.) 
political wife 

Greek: Athens 

Archippe was the wife of Themistocles (528-462 
b.c.e.), the famous Athenian politician and mili- 
tary leader who was exiled in the decade after the 
battle of Salamis in 479 b.c.e. Probably Themisto- 
cles first wife, her father was Lysander from the 
deme of Alopece. Archippe had three sons: Archep- 
tolis, Polyeuctus, and Cleophantes. Plato charac- 
terized Cleophantes as good at horseback riding 
and not much else. 

Her exiled husband left Athens for Persia, where 
he convinced the king of his usefulness, despite 
having been responsible for the strategy that 
defeated the Persians at Salamis. He settled in 
Magnesia, where he appears to have had a second 
family. Themistocles killed himself when it became 
clear that he could no longer serve the Persians 
without endangering the Greeks. 

Although Archippe appears not to have lived in 
Asia, it is unclear if her marriage was ended by 
divorce or death. 


Plato. Meno p. 93d-e. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Themistocles 

Archippe (2) 

[c. 410 B.C.E.-?) 

self-made woman 

Greek: Athens 

Archippe was an Athenian, probably born in 410 b. 
c.e. or soon after. Although she died a rich woman 
and a citizen with sons to inherit her wealth, she did 
not come from a wealthy background nor was she 
from a family of Athenian citizens. 

Archippe married Pasion, who was some 20 years 
her senior, around 395. An Athenian money 
changer, Pasion had started life as a slave and he 
became an Athenian citizen after 39 1 . At the time of 
their marriage, however, he was already considered 
the wealthiest banker and manufacturer in Athens. 
Sources estimate that Pasion earned 100 minae per 
year through money changing and between 20 and 
60 minae from his shield workshop at a time when 
60 minae equaled 1 talent, the approximate cost of 
building an Athenian battleship. 

Archippe and Pasion had two sons, Apollodorus 
and Pasciles. The former was 24 and the latter 10 
when their father died. Pasion left real estate worth 
20 talents and capital of almost 40 talents. He left 
his estate to his sons after Archippe had received a 
large dowry plus property. In his will he appointed 
Phormion, his business manager, as one of two 
legal guardians of Archippe's wealth and instructed 
her to marry him. 

Archippe married Phormion, who was not an 
Athenian citizen. Her son Apollodorus objected to 
his mother's marriage. The marriage may well have 
effectively removed Apollodorus from control over 
his mother's wealth and may also have forced a 
restructuring of the estate to pay out her dowry. In 
an effort to annul the marriage, the son charged 
Phormion with adultery. Since Athenian law pro- 
hibited a legal marriage between a citizen woman 



and a noncitizen, by implication Archippe had 
gained citizenship through her first husband. 

Although the court stipulated that Phormion's 
sons would have no claim over any of the residual 
inheritance, the suit failed to annul the marriage or 
eliminate Archippe's portion under the will. Ten 
years later, Phormion was granted citizenship. The 
two sons born to Archippe and Phormion also 
became citizens. When Archippe died those sons 
inherited her property. 


Demosthenes. Private Orations 45.28, 74; 45.3; 46.21. 

Godolphin, Francis B., ed. The Greek Historians: The Com- 
plete and Unabridged Historical Works of the Herodotus 
translated by George Rawlinson, Thucydides translated 
by Benjamin Jowett, Xenophon translated by Henry G. 
Dakyns, Arrian translated by EdqardJ. Chinnock. 2 vols. 
New York: Random House, 1942, pp. 765-766. 

Lacey, W. K. The Family in Classical Greece. Ithaca, N.Y.: 
Cornell University Press, 1968, passim. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 541-542. 


(second century b.c.e.) 

war victim 

Greek: Thessaly 

Archo's life was inextricably linked with that of her 
sister Theoxena. Their father Herodicus, a leading 
citizen, had died fighting the invasion of Thessaly 
by Philip V of Macedon in the late second century 
b.c.e. Archo's husband also died opposing Philip. 
As part of a policy of consolidation of his sover- 
eignty, Philip forced whole villages and towns to 
move. Uprooted from her ancestral home, Archo 
left with a small child. She married Poris, a promi- 
nent citizen from Aenea in northeastern Greece 
and had several more children before she died. 

Archo's sister, widowed in the same invasion, 
also had a son but chose not to remarry. After 
Archo's death, Theoxena married Poris to consoli- 
date the estate and to be mother to all the children. 
In 182 b.c.e., the entire family died in new vio- 
lence unleashed by Philip V. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 40.3-4. 


[a] Aretaphila 

(first century b.c.e.) Greek: Cyrene 


Aretaphila retired to her loom after avenging her 
husband's murder. Born into a distinguished fam- 
ily in Cyrene in North Africa during the first cen- 
tury b.c.e., she married Phaedimus, a well-born 
Cyrenian. He was murdered by Nicorates, the 
tyrant of Cyrene. 

Nicorates forced Aretaphila to marry him after 
the murder. Determined to avenge the death of 
Phaedimus, she tried to poison Nicorates. Caught, 
she claimed that the draught was a love potion and 
stood by her story under torture. Despite the mis- 
givings of Nicorates' mother, Calbia, who distrusted 
Aretaphila, she succeeded not only in saving her 
life, but also in regaining her position as the tyrant's 
wife. Fearful of any further direct attack on Nico- 
rates, Aretaphila used her daughter to entice Nico- 
rates' brother Leander into marriage. Her daughter 
then convinced him that even he, the brother of the 
tyrant, was not safe. Leander arranged for Nico- 
rates' murder and became tyrant. 

Leander proved no better a ruler than Nico- 
rates, and Aretaphila determined that his tyranni- 
cal rule over the people of Cyrene must also end. 
She sought out the African ruler Anabus and 
encouraged him to attack Cyrene. Then she bribed 
him to arrange a meeting with Leander on the pre- 
text of making peace. Instead, in accordance with 
his agreement with Aretaphila, Leander and his 
mother were turned over to the people of Cyrene. 
They were both killed. 

Aretaphila was asked by the people of Cyrene to 
rule. She, however, having achieved her goals, 
retired to private life. 

Plutarch. Moralia: De mulierum virtutibus 257 A— e. 
Polyaenus. Strategemata 38. 

(D Arete ( I ) 

(fifth-fourth century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Cyrene and Greece 

Arete was a philosopher in Athens at the end of the 
fifth century b.c.e. She was a disciple of her father, 

Ariadne, Aelia 

Aristippus, a teacher of rhetoric, who was a com- 
panion of Socrates. Although Socrates left no writ- 
ten work, Plato portrayed Socrates and his 
companions in vivid dialogues. The dialogues indi- 
cate that Socrates questioned previously unexam- 
ined assumptions. 

Arete taught philosophy to her son Aristippus, 
whom she named after her father. He became a 
founder of the Cyrenaic school, which held that 
pleasure of the senses was the supreme good, since 
only sensory impressions are knowable and plea- 
sure preferable to pain. 


Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 2.86. 

Arete (2) 

(fourth century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Greek: Syracuse 

Arete and her mother, Aristomache, shared 
tumultuous turns of fortune. Arete was the daugh- 
ter of Dionysius I and the wife of Dion, both of 
whom ruled Syracuse, Sicily, in the third century 
b.c.e. After the death of Thearides, her first hus- 
band and her father's brother, she married Dion, 
who was her mothers brother. 

Dion, who held an influential position under 
her father, Dionysius I, and his successor, Diony- 
sius II, was attracted to the philosophy of Plato. 
He persuaded Dionysius II to invite Plato to Syra- 
cuse in 366 b.c.e. Fearful that Dion wanted to 
supplant him and become Plato's ideal philoso- 
pher-king, Dionysius II exiled him. Plato left Syra- 
cuse soon after. Arete and her mother remained 

In 361, Dionysius threatened to seize the exiled 
Dion's property unless Dion persuaded Plato to 
return to Syracuse. Arete and her mother con- 
vinced of Dionysius' seriousness, urged Dion to 
act quickly Plato returned and requested that Dion 
be brought from exile. Instead, Dionysius sold 
Dion's property. Plato again left Syracuse. 

Dionysius also forced Arete, still in Syracuse, to 
marry his friend Timocratus. In 357/356 b.c.e., 
Dion captured Syracuse while Dionysius was in 
Italy. Fearful of her reception, Arete went with her 

mother to meet him. Her mother informed Dion 
that Arete had been forced into a second marriage. 
Dion embraced Arete as his true wife. 

Dion's rule became increasingly authoritarian, 
and opposition increased. The two women were 
aware of unrest in city, but Dion would not heed 
their counsel. Callippus, a former supporter of Dion 
was one of the leaders of the opposition. He feared 
Arete and her mother and swore his loyalty to them 
with a sacred oath. He then treacherously murdered 
Dion in 354. Arete and her mother were impris- 
oned. Arete gave birth to boy while incarcerated. 

Soon Callippus was killed. Arete and Aristom- 
ache were released. They found support from Hice- 
tas, a friend of Dion. However, enemies persuaded 
him to send Arete and her mother to Greece. Once 
on board the ship, they were murdered. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 14.44.8; 16.6.4. 
Plato. Epistuke 7.345c-347. 

Plutarch. Dion 3.3-4; 6.1-2; 21.1-6; 51.1-5; 57.5; 

[b] Ariadne, Aelia 

(c. 455/456-515 c.e.) 
Roman: Dacia, Constantinople 


Aelia Ariadne retained her position as Augusta 
despite the turmoil that left the diadem and scep- 
ter of the emperor a prize of violence. The daugh- 
ter of a powerful mother, the Augusta Verina, and 
the emperor Leo, she was born sometime before 
her father became emperor in February 457. On 
becoming emperor, Leo formed a strong palace 
guard under an Isaurian chieftain who took the 
name of Zeno and brought to Constantinople a 
sizable force. In 466 or 467, Ariadne, who was 
about 12 years old, was betrothed to Zeno as his 
second wife. She gave birth to a son shortly there- 
after. In 474, after the death of her father, her 
seven-year-old son Leo II became emperor and her 
husband Zeno became regent. The widowed 
Augusta Verina continued to live in the palace. A 
year later, the boy died and the Senate elevated 
Zeno to emperor. Ariadne became Augusta. 


Ariadne, Aelia 

Zeno's 17-year reign was never accepted by the 
elite of Constantinople and suffered from mockery 
heaped upon the emperor as a country bumpkin. 
Accused of sustaining his rule by bribery and skill- 
ful unprincipled diplomacy he was not ruthless by 
standards of the time, nor did he use capital pun- 
ishment. Among Zeno's problems was a conspiracy 
led by his mother-in-law, who hated him. Verina 
instigated a plot to replace Ariadne and Zeno with 
herself and Patricius, the former Master of the Sol- 
diers and her reputed lover. She solicited her 
brother Basiliscus who, in turn, recruited two Isau- 
rian officers Illus and Trocundees to join them. 
Verina revealed the plot by her brother and the 
Isaurians to Zeno. She urged him to flee with Ari- 
adne. He followed her advice, and in January 475 
Zeno and Ariadne left Constantinople with a good 
part of the state treasury to a stronghold in Isauria. 
They remained in Asia Minor for more than a year 
and a half. 

Verina suffered a double cross. Her brother Bas- 
iliscus took on the role of emperor and elevated his 
wife Zenonis to Augusta. He executed Verinas 
coconspirator Patricius. However, Basiliscus failed 
to rally popular or elite support. His onetime col- 
laborator Illus turned his support to Zeno and 
their united forces marched toward the capital. 
Basiliscus fled. Soon captured, he, his wife, and 
children were killed. Ariadne and Zeno returned 
to Constantinople in August 476. 

Ariadne and Verina joined forces against Illus, 
whose influence over Zeno dimmed their own. In 
478, Verina instigated a conspiracy to assassinate 
Illus. However, he was only injured and retreated 
to Isauria. He demanded that Zeno turn Verina 
over to him before he would return to Constanti- 
nople. Zeno had to choose between Verina and 
Illus. He chose Illus whose support he needed and 
Verina was confined to a stronghold in Isauria. By 
late 479, Verinas imprisonment supplied a pretext 
for Marcian, the son of Anthemius, who had been 
emperor in the West between 467 and 474 and to 
whom Ariadne's younger sister, Leontia, had 
been betrothed, with a reason to attack Zeno. 
Only the military intervention of Illus saved 

Despite Illus's success, Ariadne demanded Veri- 
nas return to Constantinople. Zeno sent Ariadne 
to Illus, but he refused to release Verina. Ariadne 
forced a choice between her and Illus. Zeno chose 
her. She arranged for Illus's assassination. He was 
attacked in the city and his right ear severed. How- 
ever, the assassin was killed instead. 

The one-eared Illus requested permission to 
depart and received the position of Master of Sol- 
diers in the East from Zeno. He, along with many 
of his supporters, went to Antioch and forged alli- 
ances to unseat Zeno. Ariadne and Zeno contin- 
ued to seek the release of Verina. Leontius, an 
Isuarian general, went to Antioch to demand her 
return, only to become a supporter of Illus when 
the latter offered him the position of emperor. Illus 
brought Verina to Tarsus to crown Leontius 
emperor. A proclamation, issued in her name as 
the reigning Augusta, was spread throughout the 
empire to establish the legitimacy of Leontius. In 
the ensuing civil war, Illus was defeated in autumn 
of 484 with the help of the Ostrogoths. Illus fled 
with Verina and Leontius to a fortress in the moun- 
tains of Isaurus, where Verina died shortly after 
arrival. Zeno ruled until his death in April 49 1 . 

Ariadne, the sole survivor of her generation, 
became a power broker for the next emperor. 
Important political leaders and the Senate met and 
bowed to her choice for a successor to her hus- 
band. She selected Anastasius, who was around 60 
years old and had not engaged in politics. He was a 
member of the 30 Silentiaries, a group of imperial 
guards made up of distinguished men of wealth 
and property honored with an appointment by the 
emperor. Unlike Zeno or Leontius in appearance 
and education, Anastasius was a choice consonant 
with the ideals and interests of the elite. On May 
20, 491, Ariadne married him. Through Ariadne, 
his reign connected with the past and gained 

Ariadne died in 515, after having reigned as 
Augusta for some 41 years. Among imperial 
women, only Liva, the wife of Augustus, lived 
close to the imperial center for as many decades, 
although Livia was never formally an Augusta until 
after her death. 




Theophanes. Chronicle. AM 5951, 5965, 5983, 5971, 

Bury, J. B. Later Roman Empire from the Death ofTheodosius 
to the Death of Justinian. New York: Dover Publications, 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. IIIA. Edited 
by A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Mor- 
ris. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. 
Reprinted 1992, pp. 140-141. 


(fourth century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Greek: Syracuse 

Aristomache was at the center of a struggle for 
control over Syracuse, in Sicily during the fourth 
century b.c.e. She, her daughter, and her brother, 
who was also her daughter's husband, constituted a 
faction influenced by Plato and his ideal of a phi- 
losopher-king. Their struggles began after the 
death of Dionysius I in 376 b.c.e. and ended with 
their own murders sometime after 354. 

Aristomache, the daughter of Hipparinus, a 
notable of Syracuse, was the wife of the tyrant Dio- 
nysius I. She was a cowife, married on the same day 
that Dionysius also married Doris of Locri, the 
daughter of Xenetus, from a leading family in Locri. 
Dionysius was said to have dined with both women 
and then bedded each in turn. Other sources claim 
that Dionysius feared the women and slept with 
them only after they were searched. 

Aristomache bore no children until Dionysius 
killed Doris's mother, who allegedly had used drugs 
to prevent Aristomache from conceiving a child. Of 
her subsequent two daughters, it is known that 
Sophrosyne married Dionysius II. The other, Arete 
(2), was her mother's lifetime ally. Her first husband 
was Thearides, the brother of Dionysius I. Her sec- 
ond husband was Dion, Aristomache's brother. 

After the death of Dionysius I, Aristomache 
threw in her lot with Arete and Dion, who held a 
high position at the court of Dionysius II. Influ- 
enced by Plato, Dion sought to make Dionysius II 
a philosopher-king and in 366, he persuaded Dio- 
nysius to invite Plato to Syracuse. However, Diony- 
sius exiled Dion in 365 after he became convinced 

that Dion intended his overthrow. Dion went to 
Athens, and Plato soon followed. 

Aristomache and her daughter remained in Syr- 
acuse, where they lobbied on behalf of Dion and 
protected his wealth as best they could. Dionysius 
demanded that Dion persuade Plato to return. It 
was both promise and threat. If Plato returned, 
Dion would no longer be threatened, but if he 
refused to come, Dion's estate in Syracuse would 
be confiscated. Aristomache and Arete were vul- 
nerable and alarmed. They wrote Dion to urge Pla- 
to's return. 

Even though Plato returned, Dionysius confis- 
cated Dion's estate. He also forced Arete to marry 
his friend Timocratus. When Plato had difficulty 
leaving, Dion had no choice but to raise a merce- 
nary army and wage war against Dionysius. In 
357-56, Dion marched on Syracuse while Diony- 
sius was in Italy. Aristomache met him. Since Arete 
was uncertain of her reception, Aristomache 
assumed control over the situation and informed 
her brother of Aretes forced marriage. Dion 
embraced Arete as his wife. 

Aristomache remained close to her daughter 
and brother during his rule of Syracuse and Dion 
might well have come to a less bloody end had he 
listened more closely to her advice. Dion sought to 
emulate a philosopher-king. He lived modestly 
with his wife and sister and eschewed the ribald 
and coarse entertainments of his military compan- 
ions. He also sought to circumscribe the demo- 
cratic assembly of citizens. His attempt to establish 
an aristocratic government bred discontent. In a 
critical error of judgment he allowed the murder of 
Heracleides, who had once won a naval victory 
over Dionysius but had had become Dion's oppo- 
nent. Filled with remorse over the slaying, Dion 
failed to listen closely to Aristomache when she 
and Arete reported a plot against him led by Cal- 
lippus, a man who Dion believed to be a friend. 

Hearing that Aristomache and Arete had 
become convinced of his treachery, Callippus 
approached the women. He proclaimed his loyalty. 
The women demanded a binding oath in the sanc- 
tuary of Demeter and Persphone, where the sacred 
rites were performed. Callippus donned the purple 


Arrecina Tertulla 

vestments of the goddesses and recited the oath 
while holding a blazing torch. All to no avail. 

Callippus had Dion murdered in 354 b.c.e. Aris- 
tomache and Arete were imprisoned. There Arete 
gave birth to a boy, a posthumous son of Dion. No 
sooner had Callippus set out on military campaigns, 
however, than he lost control over Syracuse. In 
another turn of fortune, Aristomache, Arete, and the 
baby were released from prison into the friendly care 
of Hicetas of Syracuse, a friend of Dion. This, how- 
ever, was the act of treachery that ended their lives. 

Hicetas, persuaded by opponents of the Dion 
faction, sent the women with the baby to Greece. 
No doubt the women agreed, since their lives and 
that of Dion's posthumous son hung by a thread in 
Syracuse. Once on board ship, the three were mur- 
dered, either by sword or by drowning. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 14.44.8; 16.6.4. 

Plato. Epistulae 7.345c-347. 

Plutarch. Dion 3.3-6; 6.1-2; 18.6-9; 19.8; 21.5-6; 51.1- 

5; 56.1-6; 58.8-10. 
Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri 1X9.13-4. 

Arrecina Tertulla 

(first century C.E.) 
young wife 

Roman: Rome 

Arrecina Tertulla was the daughter of Arrecinus 
Clemens, one of the two prefects of the Praetorian 
Guard under the emperor Gaius Caligula. She 
married the future emperor Titus in the 60s c.e. 
She died before his father, Vespasian, became 
emperor. They had no children. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Titus 4.2. 
Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 37-38. 

[a] Arria Fadilla 

(first-second century c.e.) Roman: Gaul 
mother of Antoninus Pius 

Arria Fadilla was from Nemausus (Nimes) in 
Roman Gaul. She was a member of the new pro- 

vincial elite that came to power with the emperor 
Trajan and that formed the dynasty of the Anto- 
nines. She was well educated and very wealthy. 
Like many of the women in these elite families, she 
successfully managed her own business affairs with 
properly inherited from her father's as well as her 
mother's sides of the family. 

Her father, Arrius Antoninus, had been consul 
suffectus in 69 c.e. and proconsul of Asia. He was a 
friend of the emperor Marcus Cocceius Nerva, under 
whom he served a second time as consul, and with 
whom he shared an interest in Greek poetry. His 
poetry was sufficiently well known for Pliny the 
Younger to have commented favorably upon it. Arria 
Fadilla's mother was Boionia Procilla, whose family 
probably had connections to the emperor Trajan. 

Arria Fadilla married Aurelius Fulvus, a man 
also from a provincial consular family in Nimes. It 
was a successful marriage. Their son, Titus Aurelius 
Fulvus Boionus Arrius Antoninus, became the 
emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned 137-61) after 
his adoption by Hadrian. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 4.3. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Antoninus Pius 1 .4 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 44. 
Syme, Ronald. Tacitus. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 

1958, pp. 604-605. 

Arria the Elder 

(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Italy 

Arria lived a life of passionate commitment shared 
by her daughter, the younger Arria, and her 
granddaughter, Fannia (2). Living in the most 
influential political circles of her time, her behav- 
ior underscored traditions of character, family loy- 
alty, and honor admired and rarely practiced in the 
conflicts that racked elite Roman society during 
the middle decades of the first century c.e. 

Educated and articulate, Arria and her hus- 
band, Caecina Paetus, followed the teachings of 
the Stoics. They believed in the dignity of the 


Arria the Younger 

Senate and the responsibility of senators to speak 
out about the affairs of the empire. In 42 c.e. 
Paetus sided with Lucius Arruntius Camillus 
Scribonianus, legate in Dalmatia and consul in 
32, when Scribonianus led two legions in an ill- 
conceived and ill-fated revolt against the emperor 
Claudius. Even though Arria was a friend of Vale- 
ria Messallina, the wife of Claudius, she trav- 
eled with Paetus to Dalmatia in support of the 
insurgency. The legions, however, refused to 
march on Rome, and the revolt was quashed in 
four days. Scribonianus was killed, and Paetus 
was taken prisoner. 

Arria sought to accompany her husband on 
board the ship taking him to Rome. She argued that 
a man of his rank, even though a prisoner, should be 
accorded several slaves for his toilet and table. Were 
she present, she would be able to serve him. When 
the soldiers refused her request, Arria hired a small 
fishing boat and followed behind her husband's ship 
to Rome. There, at the emperors palace, she encoun- 
tered Vibia, the wife of Scribonianus, also newly 
returned from Dalmatia, who had testified against 
her own husband in the resulting inquiry. When the 
woman approached, Arria turned away, declaring 
that she would not suffer conversation with a woman 
who clung to life although her murdered husband 
had died in her arms. 

Arria's strength of character rested on her con- 
viction that marriage bound her with her husband 
in public as well as in private life. Her husband and 
their beloved son were both critically ill, and the 
son died. Arria arranged for the funeral and kept 
the news from Paetus so that grief would not tip 
the scales in his own struggle to live. 

Her death was as noble as her life. Awaiting her 
husband's conviction for treason, she refused to 
appeal to her friend Messallina and made it clear to 
her family that she planned to die with him. Her 
son-in-law, Publius Clodius Thrasea Paetus, sought 
to dissuade her. He asked if she would tell her 
daughter to die in similar circumstances. Arria 
responded that she would, if her daughter had as 
harmonious a shared life with her husband as Arria 
had with hers. When her family sought to protect 
her from herself, she beat her head against a wall 

until she lost consciousness, making plain that 
they could not force her to live. 

When the time came for Paetus to die, Arria 
was by his side. She took the sword and plunged it 
into her breast, sealing her immortality by telling 
him that it did not hurt. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 60.16.5—7. 

Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 3.16. 

Martial. Epigrammata 1.13 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 175. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, p. 161. 

[b] Arria the Younger 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Italy 

Arria belonged to a circle of distinguished men 
and women who shaped the literary and philo- 
sophical ideas of the period and who were active in 
the politics of the day. Often, they risked their for- 
tunes and their lives to oppose the emperors. Her 
mother, the elder Arria, and her father, Caecina 
Paetus, had committed suicide in 42 c.e. after her 
father had been convicted of treason against the 
emperor Claudius. 

By marrying Publius Clodius Thrasea Paetus, 
consul suffectus in 56, Arria, who was related to 
the Stoic satirist Aulus Persius Flaccus (34-62 c. 
e.), entered into a senatorial family that reinforced 
the union of honor, politics and Stoic discourse. 
Her husband upheld the family tradition when he 
walked out of the Senate after a self-serving letter 
was read in which the emperor Nero enumerated 
the charges that justified the death of his own 
mother, the younger Agrippina. 

The almost inevitable happened in 66. Thrasea 
Paetus was accused in the Senate of treason. Hel- 
vidius Priscus, the husband of Arria and Thrasea 
Paetus's only child, Fannia (2), was also accused. 
Priscus, a fellow student of Stoicism, had married 
Fannia in about 55. The accusation that he shared 
Thrasea Paetus's views was no doubt justified. 



Arria's husband was condemned to death, and Pris- 
cus was banished. Thrasea Paetus learned of his 
fate while hosting a dinner. He urged his guests to 
leave so as not to be implicated in his affairs and 
turned his attention to committing suicide. Arria 
intended to follow her mother's example and die 
with her husband, but he convinced her to live for 
the sake of their daughter. She and Fannia were 
closely linked thereafter. Since Fannia was already 
a grown woman and married, Arria may have used 
her own wealth to augment the losses to her daugh- 
ter from the confiscation of both Thrasea Paetuss 
and Priscus's estates. 

In 66, Arria and Fannia left Rome voluntarily 
with the banished Priscus. The three returned in 
68, when Galba supplanted Nero as emperor. Pris- 
cus immediately began a prosecution of Marcellus 
Epirus, who had received 5 million sesterces for his 
earlier successful prosecution of Priscus and Thra- 
sea Paetus. Fortune as well as honor was at stake. 
Among the senators, more than a few had finan- 
cially benefited from the late persecutions and were 
themselves vulnerable to attack from newly 
returned exiles. The Senate was divided, and Pris- 
cus withdrew his case on the advice of friends. 

Priscus continued to attack Epirus outside the 
Senate. Around 75, the emperor Vespasian, angered 
by Priscus's attacks and claiming that he did the 
state no service by constantly harping on wrongs 
from the past, again exiled him. Fannia and Arria 
left with him. Soon after, Priscus was executed, 
although sources note that Vespasian had sent a let- 
ter that arrived too late to prevent the execution. 

Arria and Fannia returned to Rome after the 
death of Vespasian, and they once more entered on 
a collision course with the emperor. At the time of 
Thrasea Paetuss death, Junius Arulenus Rusticus, 
then plebeian tribune, had offered to veto the Sen- 
ate's resolution condemning Thrasea Paetus. His 
offer had been refused, for Thrasea Paetus did not 
wish to jeopardize the young man at the beginning 
of his career by causing him to directly oppose the 
Senate and the emperor. In 93, the emperor Domi- 
tian ordered the execution of Rusticus, who had 
been consul suffectus in 92, for his praise of the 
dead Thrasea Paetus and the elder Helvidius Priscus. 

He also ordered the execution of the younger Hel- 
vidius Priscus, Fannia's stepson, and he expelled all 
philosophers from Rome in an attempt to rid him- 
self of Stoic sympathizers. Arria and Fannia were 
among those exiled. 

More specifically, Arria and Fannia were expelled 
for commissioning a laudatory memoir of the 
younger Helvidius Priscus. Fannia attempted to 
take full blame and to spare her mother another 
exile, to no avail. The women, however, once more 
outlived their tormentor and returned to Rome in 
96. At the request of the younger Pliny, Arria and 
Fannia joined with Anteia, the widow of the 
younger Helvidius Priscus, in a suit to clear the lat- 
ter's name. Pliny brought the matter before the 
Senate, but no action was taken. 

Arria died before Fannia, although the exact 
date is unknown. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 3.1 1; 9.13. 

Tacitus. Annales 16.21-29, 33-35. 

Tacitus. Historiae4.3—9. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Domitian 10. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Vespasian 15. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 58. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 175. 

[b] Arsinoe 

(fourth century b.c.e.) Greek: Macedonia 
progenitor of Ptolemaic line 

Arsinoe was the mother of the Ptolemaic line of 
Greek rulers in Egypt that lasted from 323 b.c.e., 
after the death of Alexander the Great, until Egypt 
became a Roman province in 30 b.c.e. She was 
probably a lover of Philip II, ruler of Macedonia 
(359-336 b.c.e.). She married a Macedonian 
named Lagus, who was the father of her son Ptol- 
emy. Ptolemy, a general in Alexander's army, 
became Ptolemy I Soter, ruler of Egypt. 


Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,271. 


Arsinoe' II Philadelphia 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 24. 

Arsinoe I 

(300 B.C.E.-?) 

political player 

Greek: Greece and Egypt 

Arsinoe I and her sister-in-law, Arsinoe II Phila- 
delphus, vied for power in the generation born 
after the death of Alexander the Great. Born in 
300 b.c.e., she was the daughter of Nicaea (i) and 
Lysimachus, one of Alexanders generals. In 289 or 
288 she married Ptolemy II Philadelphia and had 
three children: Ptolemy III Euergetes, Berenice 
Syra, who married the Seleucid king Antiochus II, 
and Lysimachus. 

Arsinoe was no match for her sister-in-law. After 
escaping from her husband/stepbrother Ptolemy 
Ceraunus, who ruled Macedonia, Arsinoe II per- 
suaded Ptolemy II to become her husband and 
banish Arsinoe on trumped up charges of conspir- 
acy. The very wealthy Arsinoe went to Coptus in 
Upper Egypt where she lived in great splendor and 
exercised considerable power. Her eldest son ruled 
Egypt after his father's death. 


Polybius. Histories 25.5. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from. 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, 1951, passim. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 109-111. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 177. 

[b] Arsinoe II Philadelphus 

(c. 316-270 b.c.e.) 

Greek: Egypt and Macedonia 

coruler; deified 

Arsinoe II played an important role in the compli- 
cated marital and political coalitions formed in 
the generation born after the death of Alexander 
the Great in 323 b.c.e. She was the daughter of 
Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt and Berenice I. In 300 

or 299 b.c.e., she married Lysimachus, a compan- 
ion of her father and of the late Alexander. Her 
husband had became ruler of Thrace and had 
gained control of Macedonia and Thessaly in the 
years since Alexander's death. He shed his second 
wife to marry Arsinoe and cement relations with 
her father. 

Arsinoe was about 16 when she married; Lysi- 
machus was 60 or 6 1 . She strongly influenced her 
elderly husband who gave her the towns of Hera- 
clea, Tius, Amastris, and Cassandria. They had 
three sons. Determined that one of her sons would 
succeed her husband, she convinced Lysimachus to 
eliminate Agathocles, his eldest son by a previous 
marriage. He charged the boy with treason and put 
him to death in 283. 

Lysimachus was killed in battle in 28 1 . Arsinoe, 
who was in Ephesus, dressed her maid in royal 
clothing while she darkened her face and dressed 
in rags. With her three sons, she went to the shore 
where ships were waiting to take them to Macedo- 
nia. She escaped and the maid, whom she left 
behind, was killed. Settling in Cassandreia, she 
raised a mercenary army from her own wealth. 

Arsinoe II 

(Date: 270 B.C.E.-240 B.C.E. 1935.117.1086, Archives, American 
Numismatic Society) 


Arsinoe III Philopator 

Arsinoe married Ptolemy Ceraunus, her half 
brother, who ruled Macedonia and Thrace after 
having killed Seleucus I to become king. The dis- 
trustful Arsinoe forced Ceraunus to marry her in 
front of the Macedonian troops outside the gates 
of Cassandreia. Shortly thereafter, Ceraunus killed 
two of her sons even as she held them. The eldest, 
who had warned his mother against the marriage, 
had escaped to Illyria before the wedding. Fearful 
of Arsinoe's brother, Ptolemy II, Philadelphus, 
Ceraunus spared Arsinoe. She, however, mindful 
of her vulnerable position, left for Egypt. 

Almost 40 years old, Arsinoe married her 
brother Ptolemy II after persuading him to banish 
his wife, Arsinoe I. Theirs was the first sibling 
marriage among the Greek rulers of Egypt. Prior to 
the marriage, Ptolemy II had been defeated by 
Antiochus I, and Egyptian forces had been driven 
from Syria. After the marriage, Arsinoe energized 
her new husband to lead the Egyptians to a victory 
that included the capture of Phoenicia and most of 
the coast of Asia Minor from Miletus to Calycad- 
nus in Cilicia. She also strengthened Egyptian sea 
power to expand the sphere of Egypt's influence. 

She and her husband ruled for about five years. 
She was the first Greek woman ruler of Egypt to 
have her portrait appear along with that of her 
husband on coins. She and her husband were also 
the first Ptolemaic rulers to deify themselves dur- 
ing their lifetime. She was considered an incarna- 
tion of the Egyptian goddess Isis. Poets composed 
verses about her, and the court of Alexandria 
flourished. Arsinoe wanted her son Ptolemy, 
whose father was Lysimachus, to become king of 
Macedonia, but she died in 270 b.c.e. before she 
could succeed. 


Justin. Epitome 24.2-3. 

Polyaenus. Strategemata 18.57. 

Burstein, Stanley Mayer. "Arsinoe II Philadelphos: A Revi- 
sionist View." In Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the 
Macedonian Heritage, ed. by W. Lindsay Adams and 
Eugene N. Borza. Washington, D.C.: University Press 
of America, 1982, pp. 197-212. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, 1951, passim. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, passim. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 177. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984, passim. 

Tarn, William Woodthorpe. Hellenistic Civilization. Lon- 
don: Methuen, 1966, passim. 

[a] Arsinoe III Philopator 

(third century b.c.e.) Greek: Egypt 

Arsinoe III, a brave, beloved, and virtuous ruler, 
was victimized by her brother/husband and even- 
tually murdered in a conspiracy headed by her 
husband's lover and brother. Born in 235 b.c.e., 
she was the daughter of Berenice II of Cyrene 
and Ptolemy III Euergetes. In 217 Arsinoe, who 
was still a young woman, was present on the bat- 
tlefield of Raphia in Coele-Syria where she rallied 
the troops and prevented a defeat by Antiochus III 
the Great in the Fourth Syrian War. After the bat- 
tle, she married her brother, Ptolemy IV Philopa- 
tor. Arsinoe, who was much younger than her 
brother, gave birth to a boy in 210. 

The marriage was not happy. Ptolemy was 
addicted to drink and debauchery. He became 
besotted with Agathocleia, who had come to 
Egypt from Samos with her mother and brother. 
Along with her mother, Oenanthe, and her 
brother, Agothocles, Agathocleia murdered Ptol- 
emy and Arsinoe in 205. Enraged primarily at the 
death of Arsinoe, whom they admired, the army 
and the people of Alexandria tore the assassins 
limb from limb. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 276b. 

Polybius. Histories 5.83-84; 15.33. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 136-141. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 177-178. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984, pp. 50-51. 


Artemisia I 

Arsinoe Auletes 

(65 B.c.E-43/40 b.c.e.) 
coruler; insurgent leader 

Greek: Egypt 

Arsinoe Auletes engaged in a struggle with her 
older sister Cleopatra VII for control over Egypt 
that cost her life. Her mother was possibly Cleopa- 
tra VI Tryphaena, and her father was Ptolemy 
XII Auletes. She was born about 65 b.c.e. She 
seems to have been as strong-willed as Cleopatra 
VII but without her charm, allure, diplomatic 
skills, or culture. In 48, when Julius Caesar decreed 
that Cleopatra VII and her brother Ptolemy XIII, 
should be joint rulers of Egypt and marry each 
other, he also made Arsinoe Auletes and her other 
brother, Ptolemy XIV, joint rulers of Cyprus. 
Arsinoe was kept under watch by Caesar. 

Jealous of Cleopatra VI Is more prominent role, 
she escaped to Alexandria aided by the eunuch 
Ganymede. She was about 17 when the Egyptian 
forces in Alexandria, led by their commander-in- 
chief Achillas, declared her ruler of Egypt. Not sat- 
isfied with a secondary role, she soon vied with 
Achillas over control of the armed forces. She had 
him killed and took charge. She appointed Gany- 
mede head of the armed forces in the fight against 
Caesar. The Egyptian forces, unhappy under the 
control of a woman and a eunuch, asked Caesar to 
send the young Ptolemy XIII, Arsinoe's brother, to 
discuss peace terms. Instead, the Egyptian forces 
rallied around Ptolemy XIII. Arsinoe was defeated 
after a hard struggle. 

Fearful that Arsinoe would again rally the Egyp- 
tians, Caesar took her to Rome and paraded her in 
regal attire and chains in his triumph. In 41, he 
allowed Arsinoe to go free, and she became a sup- 
pliant in the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. After 
Caesar's death, Mark Antony, at the request of 
Cleopatra VII, ordered that she be taken from the 
temple and killed. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 5.9. 
Dio Cassius. Roman History 42.35, 39-40, 42; 43.19.2-4. 
Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 15. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, passim. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 28. 


(fourth century b.c.e.) 
political wife 

Persian: Persia 

Artacama married Ptolemy, the future ruler of 
Egypt, when he was still a general in the army of 
Alexander the Great. Artacama was the daughter 
of Artabazus (387-325 b.c.e.), who was appointed 
satrap of Dascylium by Artaxerxes II, king of Per- 
sia. After subduing the Persians, Alexander arranged 
to have 80 of his most distinguished Macedonian 
officers marry women of the Persian aristocracy in 
an effort to meld conquerors and conquered. 

The marriages, including that of Artacama and 
Ptolemy, took place in 324 at Susa. After the death 
of Alexander in 323, the experiment in union 
through marriage fell apart. Artacama and Ptolemy 


Arrian. Anabasis of Alexander 7-4. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World fom 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, 1951, p. 250. 

Artemisia I 

(fifth century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Asia Minor 

Artemisia captained five ships in Xerxes' Persian 
fleet at the battle of Salamis against the Greeks in 
480 b.c.e. Widowed, and with a young son, she 
ruled Halicarnassus, Cos, Nisyrus, and Calyndus 
in southwestern Asia Minor. Her father was Lygda- 
mis of Halicarnassus, and her mother was thought 
to be of Cretan background. She assumed rule over 
Halicarnassus, whose inhabitants were Greek, after 
the death of her husband. Although she ruled 
under Persian suzerainty, it was not necessary for 
her bring a fleet into battle. 

Artemisia provided ships as well as wise and 
practical counsel for Xerxes. She was the only one 
of his naval commanders to urge him — correctly — 


Artemisia II 

not to engage the Greek fleet in the straits of Sala- 
mis. She escaped after the Persian defeat by sinking 
an enemy vessel. Later she transported part of 
Xerxes' family to Ephesus. 

A white marble figure was erected in the portico 
of the temple of Artemis in Sparta to commemo- 
rate her actions at Salamis. 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 7.95-100. 

Pausanias. Description of Greece 3.1 1, 3. 

Hammond, N. G. L. A History of Greece. Oxford: Oxford 
University Press, 1967, p. 239. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 184. 

Artemisia II 

(fourth century b.c.e/ 

Greek: Asia Minor 

Artemisia ruled Caria, a virtually independent 
satrapy of Persia in southwest Asia Minor, after the 
death of her brother/husband, Mausolus, in 353 or 
352 b.c.e. In memory of her husband, she contin- 
ued to build a mausoleum he had begun in Hali- 
carnassus that would become one of the Seven 
Wonders of the Ancient World. 

The foundation of the Mausoleum was about 100 
by 140 feet with a high base upon which stood a col- 
onnade of some 36 Ionic columns supporting a 
pyramidlike cap that reached a height of about 140 
feet. The architect was Pythius, who was said to have 
sculpted a major chariot group frieze for the struc- 
ture. Other well-known sculptors of the time, includ- 
ing Scopas, Bryaxis, Timotheus, and Leochares, were 
also said to have contributed to the project. 

Following in her husband's Panhellenic literary, 
scientific, and artistic path, Artemisia sponsored a 
competition in oratory attended by the leading fig- 
ures of the day, including Isocrates. The winner 
was Theopompus. She also must have had an inter- 
est in horticulture and named a plant after herself. 

An attack on Rhodes by exiles expecting sup- 
port from Athens gave Artemisia reason for attack- 
ing and conquering Rhodes. She died a short time 
later in 351 b.c.e. 

The Mausoleum, with its sculptured groupings 
of animals and human figures, was destroyed in 
an earthquake before the 15th century c.e. In 
1857 the site was excavated by C. T. Newton. 
Among the pieces brought to the British Museum 
were colossal statutes of Mausolus and Artemisia. 


Aulus Gellius. Nodes Atticae 10.18.1-6. 

Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 25.36; 36.30-32. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 184. 


(fourth century b.c.e.) 
political wife 

Persian: Persia 

Artonis was one of 80 noble Persian women who 
were married the elite Macedonian officers of Alex- 
ander the Great in a mass ceremony in Susa in 324 
b.c.e. She was the daughter of Artabazus, who 
defected to Alexander the Great and was made 
satrap of Bactria. 

Artonis married Eumenes, a Greek from Cardia, 
who was Alexander's principal secretary. Eumenes 
divorced Artonis after Alexander died. 


Arrian. Anabasis of Alexander 7.4. 

Artoria Flaccilla 

(first century c.e.) 
loyal wife 

Roman: Rome 

Artoria Flaccilla lived among the rich, the edu- 
cated, and the imperial elite. Her husband, 
Novius Priscus, was a close friend of the philoso- 
pher Lucius Annaeus Seneca. For some eight 
years at the beginning of Nero's reign, Seneca 
and Sextus Afranius Burrus were the emperor's 
two most important advisers. Burrus died in 62 
c.e., and Seneca fell from favor as Nero's behav- 
ior became more extreme. In 65, Nero falsely 
accused Seneca of participating in the Pisonian 
conspiracy to kill the emperor and forced him to 
commit suicide. Nero sent Priscus into exile, 



and Artoria Flaccilla voluntarily went with her 


Tacitus. Annates 15.71. 

(D Asella 

(c. 334-fifth century c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Asella's parents dedicated their newborn daughter 
to a life of Christian asceticism and virginity. She 
exceeded her parents' expectations. Asella lived 
with her sister, Marcella, in the first house in 
Rome devoted to chaste virgins and widows. 

Asella's family was extremely wealthy and she 
came from a patrician line. Her grandfather Caeio- 
nius Rufius Albinus had been consul in 345-346. 
Nonetheless, she was born at a time when there was 
a sense of foreboding and concern for the future. 
Christianity was on the rise and asceticism was a 
new movement. It touched older beliefs. The vir- 
ginal woman was a Roman pagan tradition. The 
patrician Roman families had always dedicated 
daughters to fill the ranks of the Vestal Virgins, a 
position that contributed to family honor and was 
regarded as assuring the well-being of Rome. The 
position had a term of 30 years after which an hon- 
orably retired woman was left financially well 
rewarded, with wealth that would accrue to the 
family. Dedicating a child at birth to a life of Chris- 
tian virginity, however, offered no comparable 
honor to the family or long-term financial benefit. 
Rather, Asella's parents were drawn to a new view of 
virginity that allowed their daughter to find Christ 
for eternity. For such parents, the promise never to 
seek a husband for a daughter was the greatest gift 
they could bestow upon their child. 

Asella's mother was the elder Albina, who chose 
not to remarry after the death of her husband. A 
woman who wed only once had the status of uni- 
vira, which also had a long tradition of honor among 
pagans. Her mother's motivation, however, was 
clearly Christian, not pagan. Asella's older sister, 
Marcella, became a notable Christian ascetic, a fre- 
quent correspondent with the church father Jerome, 

and an expert in Christian doctrine who Christians 
in Rome consulted on disputed points of theology. 
Marcella, like her mother, chose an ascetic life after 
having been married and widowed, but never hav- 
ing borne any children. The family was not pleased 
with either her mother or sister's choice. Peace was 
kept by an agreement whereby that part of the fam- 
ily fortune held by her mother and Marcella was 
given to her maternal uncle, nieces, and nephews to 
secure it within the family line. 

Asella, whose financial relationship with the 
family and its wealth is unknown, adopted a more 
extreme ascetic lifestyle than her sister and at an 
earlier age. At age 10, she consecrated herself to 
Christ. She sold her gold necklace without notify- 
ing her parents, although what she did with the 
proceeds of the sale remains unknown, and she 
began to dress plainly in dark clothes, although 
neither of her parents had wished her to assume a 
monkish garb. 

Her mother died in 388 and Asella, her sister, 
and the women around them who shared their 
passion for a modest Christian life moved to a 
smaller residence in a suburb of Rome. In contrast 
with the other members of the community, Asella 
lived alone in a small cell. She rarely met with her 
sister or anyone else. 

Jerome's correspondence with Asella and the 
women around her provides a coda on her life. 
He wrote a letter to Marcella in 384 in which he 
praised Asella's devotion to Christ and com- 
mented that her holy knees were as hard as a cam- 
el's from constant prayer. He asked Marcella not 
to show his comment to Asella since she would 
find the praise unwelcome. A year later, Jerome 
left Rome and wrote Asella as he sailed away. 
Jerome's leave-taking had been controversial. He 
was accused by some in the Christian community 
of hastening the death of Blaesilla from fasting 
by his encouragement of excessive asceticism. He 
also aroused comment for his close relationship 
with Paula and Eustochium, friends of Asella 
and her sister Marcella. His letter to Asella, 
although not apologetic, was a self-serving expla- 
nation of his behavior to a woman he evidently 
admired for her saintliness. 



Asella was still alive in 405 according to the his- 
torian Palladius. 


Jerome. Letters XXIV, XXV. 

Palladius. The Lausiac History 41 . 4. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 117. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 
self-made woman 

Greek: Athens 

Aspasia was the most famous woman of Athens 
during the height of its democracy in the fifth cen- 
tury b.c.e. She was clever, intelligent, sophisti- 
cated, cultured, and politically astute. Her father, 
Axiochus, was from Miletus on the southwest coast 
of Asia Minor. Aspasia was Pericles' companion 
and lived with him from 445 b.c.e., some five 
years after he divorced his wife, Hipparete (i), 
until his death in 429. 

Very much a part of the public life of the city, she 
participated in its intellectual and political ferment. 
She visited with Socrates and his disciples. There is 
some indication that several of the men who visited 
with her may even have been accompanied by their 
wives or other female companions. She is also said 
to have educated a group of young women, possibly 
resident foreigners or freedwomen. 

Pericles, always open to political attack, was 
especially vulnerable in his relationship with Aspa- 
sia. Her public presence so close to him and 
among the elite of the city drew comments, some- 
times amusing, other times derisive and biting. In 
the winter of 441—440 b.c.e., war broke out 
between Samos and Miletus, Aspasia's birthplace, 
over possession of the city of Priene. Aspasia was 
accused of persuading Pericles to make war against 
the Samians after the Milesians lost and appealed 
to Athens for help. According to treaty, Athens 
had no right to intervene; nevertheless, Pericles 
conquered Samos. 

After Pericles died, Aspasia joined forces with 
Lysicles, a popular leader described as a low-born 

sheep dealer who became famous through his asso- 
ciation with her. He died in 428. 

Aspasia had two children, one with Pericles and 
the other with Lysicles. Pericles had been the 
author of the Athenian law that restricted citizen- 
ship to children born of two citizen parents. How- 
ever, Aspasia and Pericles' son became a citizen 
after the death of Pericles' two sons from his earlier 
marriage. The child took Pericles' name and grew 
up to become an Athenian general. 

The exact date of Aspasia's death is not known. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 5.219b-c. 

Plato. Menexemus 235e-236d; 249d, e. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pericles 24.2-6; 

Blundell, Sue. Women in Ancient Greece. London: British 

Museum Press, 1995, p. 148. 
Davies, J. K. Athenian Propertied Families, 600—300 B.C. 

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, p. 458. 
Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 

Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 192. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, pp. 89-90. 

Hj Atia(l) 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Italy 
mother ofOctavia and Augustus 

Atia can truly be said to be a woman known by 
her children. She was the mother of Octavian, 
who became the emperor Augustus, and Octa- 
via (2) and the stepmother of Octavia (i). Atia 
was the elder daughter of Marcus Atius Balbus 
and Julia (4), the younger sister of Julius Caesar. 
Her first husband, Gaius Octavius, died in 58 
b.c.e., leaving her with two children. She then 
married Lucius Marcius Philippus, who was con- 
sul in 56. 

When Caesar was murdered, Octavian was in 
Apollonia on the Adriatic Sea, where he had been 
sent by his uncle for experience in campaigning. 
Atia and Philippus wrote advising him to come to 
Rome with dispatch, but to keep a low profile and 


Attia Variola 

assess the situation. Atia, concerned that the Sen- 
ate had decreed not to punish the assassins, advised 
Octavian to use wiles and patience rather than seek 

Octavian took their advice and first stopped at 
Brundisium, where he discovered that he was 
Caesar's heir. Atia supported Octavian's plan to 
accept his inheritance and avenge Caesar's death. 
The 19th-year-old Octavian began his march on 

Octavian was 20 years old and serving his first 
consulship when Atia died in 43. She had a public 
funeral. Octavian conferred the highest posthu- 
mous honors on her. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (CivilWars) 3.13, 14. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 6 1 . 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 207. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 34. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, passim. 

Atia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
niece of Julius Caesar 

Roman: Italy 

Atia and her older sister Atia (i), the mother of 
the emperor Augustus, were the nieces of Julius 
Caesar through their mother Julia (4), Caesar's sis- 
ter. Their father was Marcus Atius Balbus. 

Atia married Lucius Marcius Philippus, consul 
suffectus in 38 b.c.e. He was the stepson of her sis- 
ter, who had married Philippus's father after the 
death of her first husband. They had a daughter, 
Marcia (3), who later married Paullus Fabius 
Maximus, consul suffectus in 45 b.c.e. 


Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 207. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 35. 


(first century b.c.e.) 
accused adulterer 

Roman: Italy 

Atilia, the daughter of Serranus Gavianus, tribune 
in 57 b.c.e., married Marcus Porcius Cato Uticen- 
sis in 73 b.c.e. He was on the rebound from 
Aemilia Lepida (i), who had unexpectedly 
rejected him. Cato, an unpleasant person, was 22 
years old. Atilia was about 16. Plutarch wrote that 
Cato was a virgin; presumably so was Atilia. 
Although not unusual for a woman, it was indica- 
tive of an unusual man. 

At first the marriage was sufficiently successful 
for Atilia to wish to accompany Cato on a political 
mission for the Senate in the East, and to be con- 
cerned for his safety when he went without her. 
There were several children. Nonetheless, the mar- 
riage ended in divorce, with Cato accusing Atilia 
of infidelity. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cato Minor 7.3; 

9.1-2; 24.1. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 79. 

Attia Variola 

(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Attia Variola sued her father for her patrimony. She 
was born into an aristocratic family and married a 
member of the Praetorian Guard. Her father, a 
lovesick old man, remarried at the age of 80. Eleven 
days later, he disinherited Attia. The case was tried 
before the entire Centumviral Court, consisting of 
180 jurors. Attia was represented by Gaius Plinius 
Caecilius Secundus (Pliny, the Younger), who gave 
one of his best speeches. The stepmother and her 
son both lost any right to inherit. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 6.33. 


Attica, Caecilia 

[a] Attica, Caecilia 

(51 b.c.e.— ?) Roman: Rome 

Caecilia Attica was the beloved only child of 
Titus Pomponius Atticus, whose lifetime friend- 
ship with Marcus Tullius Cicero included a cor- 
respondence that provides rare insight into 
personal and family life during the late republic. 
Her father came from a wealthy equestrian fam- 
ily and inherited additional wealth from an uncle 
who had adopted him. He married Pilia in 56 
b.c.e., when he was 53. She came from an old 
family in the city of Cora not far from Rome. It 
was his first marriage. Their daughter Attica was 
born in 51. 

The extant correspondence from 68 to 43 b. 
c.e. between Atticus and Cicero covers both per- 
sonal and professional concerns. As Attica was 
growing up, the letters traced the seasonal move- 
ments from city to country, the trips with her 
mother to visit friends and family in and out of 
Rome, and concern with the various illnesses she 

In 37 Attica married Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, 
a close friend of Atticus and a lifelong supporter, 
friend, and leading military commander of Octa- 
vian, the future emperor Augustus. The marriage 
made Agrippa immensely wealthy. Her father 
gained a relationship with the closest circle around 
Octavian. One can only guess at the relationship 
between the lively 14-year-old Attica and the aus- 
tere Agrippa. In 31, Attica gave birth to a daugh- 

After her father's death in 32, Attica was sus- 
pected of having an affair with her tutor, Quintus 
Caecilius Epirota, a learned freedman. She was 
either divorced or died young. Agrippa contracted 
another marriage in 28 b.c.e. 


Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum 12.1, 6, 13, 33; 13.14, 19, 
21a, 52; 14.16.11. 

Cicero. Brutus 17 .7. 

Suetonius. The Lives of Illustrious Men: De Grammaticis 16. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 267. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 78. 

Aurelia (I) 

(second-first century b.c.e. 
mother of Julius Caesar 

Roman: Rome 

Aurelia came from the patrician family of the Aurelii 
Cottae, whose members included two consuls 
between the years 76 and 74 b.c.e. She married 
Gaius Julius Caesar, who died in 85 b.c.e. She never 
remarried. They had three children: a son, the great 
Gaius Julius Caesar, who was 16 when his father 
died, and two daughters, Julia (3) and Julia (4). 

It was Aurelia who detected the presence of the 
notorious Publius Clodius Pulcher disguised as a 
woman in Caesars house during the Bona Dea rites, 
a traditional festival restricted to well-born women. 

Aurelia died in 54 while Caesar was campaign- 
ing in Britain. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Caesar 10. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 244. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 219. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 219. 

Aurelia (2) 

(first century c.e.) 
woman of means 

Roman: Rome 

Aurelia appears at the moment she was about to sign 
her will in a vivid and humorous letter written by 
Pliny the Younger. Even though a tutor, functioning 
in the role of agent, probably was still necessary or 
customary for some kinds of transactions, Aurelia, 
like many Roman women of the later first century, 
controlled her own affairs and could make bequests 
of her own choosing. The signing of a will moreover, 
was an occasion when propertied and wealthy 
women dressed in an elaborate fashion, clothing 
being itself valuable as well as indicative of wealth. 


Axiothea (2) 

Marcus Regulus, an advocate, seemingly made it a 
habit to persuade people to include him in their 
wills. He was present as one of the witnesses on the 
festive occasion of the signing. He asked Aurelia to 
leave him her dress. Aurelia thought he was joking, 
but he was insistent, and so she wrote the bequest of 
her dress into her will while he stood by. Pliny con- 
cluded his letter with the report that Aurelia was still 
alive and Regulus still awaited his bequest. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 2.20. 

Aurelia Orestilla 

(first century b.c.e. 
possible conspirator 

Roman: Rome 

Aurelia Orestilla was the wife of Lucius Sergius 
Catiline when he led an uprising against the senate 
in 63 b.c.e. Her father was Gnaeus Aufidius 
Orestes, consul in 71. She married, had a daugh- 
ter, and was widowed. Left wealthy, she married 
the impoverished but well-born Catiline in 68. 
Vicious rumors circulated around the marriage; 
one accused Catiline of having murdered his son 
to marry Aurelia because she refused to become 
the stepmother of a grown son. 

Catiline had a varied political career. Increasingly 
impoverished, however, he rallied a political base 
among the indebted, both low and high born. The 
combination of inflation with the rigidity of a land- 
based economy and the absence of a flexible money 
supply resulted in indebtedness and mortgaged 
estates that fed frustration and became politically 
charged. Catiline became the leader of a conspiracy 
against the Senate to ease debt. The conspiracy was 
uncovered and Catiline fled Rome in 62. 

Catiline was said to have written his friend 
Quintus Lutatius Catullus that he had sufficient 
funds to meet his own obligations. However, Aure- 
lia and her daughter paid some part of the debt 
incurred by others on his behalf, and he left Aure- 
lia vulnerable to law suits stemming from the con- 
spiracy. Catiline was subsequently put to death 
without a trial. Whatever her role in the conspir- 
acy, or the resulting law suits, Aurelia remained 
unharmed, her wealth intact. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 2.2. 

Cicero. In Catalinum 114 

Cicero. Epistulae ad familiares 8.7 '.2. 

Sallust. Bellum Catilinae 15.2; 35.3, 6. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 261. 

[b] Aurelia Severa 

(?— 213 c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Aurelia Severa was tried and convicted of violating 
her vow of chastity. One of four Vestal Virgins 
convicted in 213 c.e. by the emperor Marcus 
Aurelius Antoninus, she and her colleagues Can- 
nutta Crescentina, Clodia Laeta, and Pom- 
ponia Rufina, caused a major scandal. In an 
earlier age, the conviction of four out of six Vestals 
would have been regarded as a sign of approaching 
calamity, but times had changed. Although still 
regarded as part of ancient tradition, awe had given 
way to greater skepticism. Nonetheless, Aurelia 
was buried alive in the ancient tradition. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 78.16, 1-3. 

Axiothea (I) 

(fourth century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Greece 

Axiothea came from the city of Philius on the 
Peloponnese, the peninsula in southern Greece. 
She studied philosophy under Plato at the Acad- 
emy he established in Athens. 


Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 5.46. 

Axiothea (2) 

(fourth century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Cyprus 

Axiothea died rather than surrender when the city 
of Paphos was seized in a war among Alexander the 
Great's successor generals. She was the wife of 


Axiothea (2) 

Nicoles of Paphos on the island of Cyprus. Ni coles 
had sided with Antigonus, who controlled most of 
Asia Minor after the death of Alexander, against a 
coalition led by Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt, Cas- 
sander of Macedonia, and Lysimachus of Thrace. 
Nicoles committed suicide in 310 b.c.e. when 
Ptolemy's army surrounded his palace. 

Ptolemy had issued no instructions about the 
women. As his army stormed the palace, Axiothea 
killed her daughters so that it would be impossible 

for the enemy to rape them. She urged her sisters- 
in-law to join her in committing suicide. After 
they killed themselves, the brothers of Nicoles set 
fire to the palace and perished in the blaze. 

Axiothea was praised by the ancient historians 
for her bravery in choosing death for herself and 
her children over a life of slavery. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 20.21.1. 
Polyaenus. Strategemata 8.48. 




H] Balbillajulia 

(second century c.E.) Greek: Asia Minor 

Julia Balbilla was a poet who accompanied the 
imperial entourage of Vibia Sabina and her hus- 
band, the emperor Hadrian, on a trip to Egypt in 
130 c.e. She inscribed five epigrams on the left 
foot of the Colossus of Memnon in Thebes. 

Her epigrams were in Aeolian Greek, the lan- 
guage used by the great poet Sappho eight centu- 
ries earlier. They juxtapose the mortal and the 
immortal. They tell the story of Memnon, a mythi- 
cal king of Ethiopia who was killed by Achilles at 
Troy and whom Zeus made immortal. Balbilla 
claimed for herself piety and a royal lineage to Bal- 
billus the Wise and the ruler Antiochus. On the 
Colossus, she hoped that her words would last for- 
ever, and she, a mortal descendant of a king, would 
become immortal. 


Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 140. 
Bowie, E. L. "Greek Poetry in the Antonine Age." In Anto- 

nine Literature, ed. by D. A. Russell. Oxford: Clarendon 

Press, 1990, p. 63. 
Fantham, Elaine, et al. Women in the Classical World. New 

York: Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 353-354. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 559. 

[H Barsine (I) 

(fourth century b.c.e.) 
Persian: Asia Minor and Egypt 

Barsine lived an adventurous life in difficult times. 
She was the daughter of Artabazus, a Persian, who 
succeeded his father, Pharnabazus, as satrap of 
Dascylium, a city on the Black Sea in Asia Minor. 
She married a Rhodian mercenary leader, Mentor, 
who along with his brother Memnon had entered 
the service of Artabazus in a revolt of the satraps 
(362-360 b.c.e.) quelled by the Persian ruler 
Artaxerxes III. 

In 353 Barsine, Memnon, and Mentor fled. 
Barsine and Mentor went to Egypt where Mentor 
assembled an army of Greek mercenaries. In 344, 
while supposedly guarding the city of Sidon in 
Phoenicia against an attack by Artaxerxes, he 
instead helped Artaxerxes capture the city. Artax- 
erxes rewarded him by appointing him general. In 
this position Mentor helped Artaxerxes conquer 
Egypt in 343. He also secured a position for his 
younger brother, Memnon. After Mentor's death, 


Barsine (2) 

probably in 342 b.c.e., Barsine married Memnon. 
Memnon fought successfully against Philip II of 
Macedon in 336 and became commander-in-chief 
of the Persian forces under Darius. He died sud- 
denly around 333 b.c.e. 

Barsine was captured by Alexander the Great 
in Damascus after the death of Memnon. Her 
high birth, beauty Greek education, and amiable 
disposition brought her to his personal attention. 
She was said to be the only woman with whom 
Alexander had a sexual relationship prior to his 
marriage. Alexander married the daughter of Bar- 
sine and Mentor to his naval commander, 

After Alexander's death Barsine lived in Per- 
gamum in Asia Minor and took part in the strug- 
gles for power among Alexander's generals. Her 
pawn in these struggles was Heracles, whom some 
claimed was her son by Alexander. Although prob- 
ably not the son of Alexander, and possibly not 
even the son of Barsine, the 17-year-old boy was 
taken by Alexander's former general Polyperchon 
from Pergamum to use as a bargaining chip with 
Cassander when he sought to gain control over 
Macedonia. Polyperchon reached an agreement 
with Cassander to kill Heracles in exchange for 
land, support, and additional troops. Heracles was 
murdered in 309 b.c.e. Polyperchon also killed 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 10.20.1—4; 

Justin. Epitome 11.10; 15.2. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Alexander 


[a] Barsine (2) 

(fourth century b.c.e.) Persian: Persia 
wife of Alexander the Great; political victim 

Barsine, called Stateira by Plutarch, was the eldest 
daughter of Darius, the ruler of Persia. In 324 
b.c.e., after having conquered Persia, Alexander 
the Great arranged a mass marriage of his most dis- 
tinguished officers to 80 aristocratic Persian women 
in a revolutionary effort at ethnic harmony. He 

married Barsine even though he already had a wife, 
Roxane, whom he had married in 327. Barsine's 
sister Drypetis married Hephaestion, Alexander's 
closest companion. 

After the death of Alexander, Barsine was a 
potential rallying point in the bitter battles for 
power that erupted among Alexander's generals. To 
protect the position of her infant son, Roxane had 
Barsine and her sister murdered and hid their bod- 
ies in a well. 


Arrian. Anabasis of Alexander 1 A. 

Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 17.6. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Alexander 

Burn, Andrew Robert. Alexander the Great and the Hellenis- 
tic World. London: English Universities Press, 1964, p. 
122, 170, 182. 


(first century b.c.e.) 
hard-hearted woman 

Roman: Rome 

Bastia lived through the Social War (90-88 b.c.e.) 
and the proscriptions that followed in the dictator- 
ship of Lucius Cornelius Sulla. She was the wife of 
Gaius Papius Mutilus, a Samnite from southern 
Italy and one of the two leading generals in the 
armies fighting Rome. Despite passage of a law 
that granted Italians full Roman citizenship, Muti- 
lus refused all Roman offers of peace and led resis- 
tance in the last stronghold in 80 b.c.e. in the city 

His final defeat by Sulla coincided with the 
onset of the proscriptions, a bloodbath precipi- 
tated by the Roman system of rewarding informers 
for uncovering the whereabouts of people on the 
lists of those wanted by the state. Papius Mutilus 
was listed, but Bastia was not. He came in disguise 
to Bastia's house to seek refuge. She would not 
admit him. It is unclear if she also threatened to 
report him. He stabbed himself to death on her 
doorstep. Her death is not recorded. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 89. 


Berenice (2) 

[a] Berenice (I) 

(first century B.c.E.-first century 
c.e.) Jewish: Judaea 
political client 

Berenice, the daughter of Salome and the niece of 
Herod the Great of Judaea, had close ties with the 
Roman imperial family through her friend, the 
younger Antonia. After Berenices husband, Aris- 
tobulus, was executed in 7 b.c.e., she brought 
Marcus Julius Agrippa, her young son and future 
ruler of Judaea, to Rome and placed him in Anto- 
nia's care. He grew up with Tiberius's son Drusus 
Julius Caesar, with whom he became a close friend, 
and Antonias son, the future emperor Claudius. 
These relationships stood him, his sister Hero- 
dias, and their kin in good stead over the course of 
his political life. 

When Berenice died, she left her freedman Pro- 
tos in the service of Antonia. It was not an unusual 
bequest from a client, especially to a patron such as 
Antonia, who had business interests in the East. It 
was probably also an effort on Berenice's part to 
assure security for Protos. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 17.12; 
18.143, 156, 164-165. 

Leon, Harry J. The Jews of Ancient Rome. Philadelphia: Jew- 
ish Publication Society of America, 1960, p. 20. 

Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 12. 

[a] Berenice (2) 

(first century c.e.) 
Jewish: Judaea and Rome 

political player 

Berenice might have become Augusta had she not 
been a foreigner and a Jew. Politically astute, 
intelligent, charming, and beautiful, Berenice had 
great influence with the emperors Vespasian and 
Titus. Born in 29 c.e. she was the oldest daughter 
of Marcus Julius Agrippa I, the king of Judaea, 
and Cypros, the granddaughter of Herod the 
Great. She had a younger sister, Drusilla (2) 
with whom there was a lifelong sibling rivalry. In 

4 1 she married into a very wealthy Jewish family 
in Alexandria. When her husband died she mar- 
ried her uncle Herod, the king of Chalcis in Leb- 
anon, with whom she had two sons. After Herod 
died she lived with her brother, Agrippa II, who 
succeeded her husband as king of Chalcis. To 
quiet rumors of incest, Berenice married Pole- 
mon, priest-king of Olba in Cilicia, whom she 
soon left. 

She was responsible for the appointment of her 
former brother-in-law, Tiberius Julius Alexander, 
to the post of procurator of Judaea in 46. However, 
her attempts to persuade Gessius Florus, procura- 
tor of Judaea appointed by the emperor Nero in 
64, to change his policies toward the Jews failed. 
When the Jews revolted against his harsh rule, Ber- 
enice barely escaped. 

In 67, Vespasian, accompanied by his son Titus, 
arrived in Judaea to quell the rebellion. Titus fell in 
love with Berenice, who at 39 was some 1 1 years 
his senior, although age had evidently made no 
inroads on her beauty, charm, or diplomatic skills. 
She and her brother, Agrippa, sided with Vespasian 
in his successful attempt to become emperor in 
place of Vitellius. Berenice accompanied her 
brother to Berytus (Beirut) where Vespasian was 
encamped, charmed the emperor, and plied him 
with gifts. 

After conquering Jerusalem in 70, Titus returned 
to Rome in triumph to share the emperorship with 
his father. Berenice came to Rome in 75 and lived 
with Titus for several years. Widespread criticism 
of the liaison forced its end. When Titus became 
emperor in 79, Berenice returned to Rome, but 
once again criticism ended the relationship. Ber- 
enice has been called the "mini-Cleopatra" — 
though Titus and Vespasian were no Julius Caesar 
and Mark Antony. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 18.132; 

19.267-277, 354; 20.104, 145-146. 
Josephus. Bellum Judaicum (Jewish Wars) 2.217, 220—222, 

Grant, Michael. The Jews in the Roman World. New York: 

Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973. 


Berenice I 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 4. 

Perowne, Stewart. Hadrian. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood 
Publishing, 1976, passim. 

[b] Berenice I 

(340-281/271 b.c.e.) 
Greek: Macedonia and Egypt 
political player; deified 

Berenice I was the most influential woman in 
Egypt at the end of the fourth and beginning of 
the third centuries b.c.e. She supplanted her cousin 
Eurydice (3) in the affections of her stepbrother 
Ptolemy I Soter. Born in 340 b.c.e., Berenice was 
the granddaughter of Cassander, a general under 
Alexander the Great, and the great-granddaughter 
of Antipater, one of Alexanders successors. Her 
mother was Antigone, and her father, a Macedo- 
nian named Lagus. 

Berenice married Philippus, a Macedonian, and 
had several children, among whom were Magas, 
later king of Cyrene, and Antigone. Widowed, 

Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice I 

(Date: 270 B.C.E- 240 B.C.E. 1956.183.28, Archives, American 
Numismatic Society) 

she came to Egypt as a companion to her aunt 
Eurydice, who had married Ptolemy I Soter as part 
of a plan by Antipater to secure marital alliances 
among the successors to Alexander and thereby re- 
create his empire. 

Berenice, some 26 years his junior, became 
Ptolemy's lover in 3 17 and persuaded him to reject 
her aunt. Their love was celebrated in the Seven- 
teenth Idyll of the leading poet of the period Theo- 
cratus of Syracuse. She bore two children, Arsinoe 
II Philadelphia and Ptolemy II Philadelphus. 
Ptolemy designated their son as heir and appointed 
Ptolemy Philadelphus joint ruler in 285. 

Berenice married her daughter Antigone to Pyr- 
rhus, later ruler of Epirus, who sought a close rela- 
tionship to secure Ptolemy's support. He returned 
to Epirus with money and an army. Just as Ptolemy 
named a town in Berenice's honor in Egypt, so too 
Pyrrhus named a town in her honor in Epirus. 

Berenice died between 281 and 271 and was 
deified by her son, who built temples to honor his 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pyrrhus 4.4; 6.1. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 103-109. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 239. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 9. 

[b] Berenice II of Cyrene 

(c. 273-221 b.c.e.) 
Greek: Cyrene and Egypt 

Berenice was a woman of courage, great strength 
of character, and enormous ambition. She over- 
came the treachery of her mother, Apama (2), to 
become ruler of Cyrene, in North Africa, and suc- 
ceeded in linking Cyrene with Egypt through her 
marriage to Ptolemy III Euergetes. 


Berenice II of Cyrene 

Born in 273 b.c.e., Berenice was part of the tan- 
gled web of relationships among five generations of 
successors to Alexander's empire. Her father, Magas, 
king of Cyrene, was the great-grandson of Cas- 
sander, one of the generals in the army of Alexan- 
der. Her grandmother Berenice I had gone to 
Egypt after her father's birth. Already a widow with 
several children, her grandmother became the wife 
of Ptolemy I Soter and mother of Berenice's stepun- 
cle Ptolemy II Philadelphia — and consequently the 
most influential woman of her day. 

Ptolemy II had been responsible for her father's 
rule over Cyrene. Before her father died, he 
arranged her marriage to Ptolemy III, the future 
ruler of Egypt, for the union would extend the alli- 
ance between Cyrene and Egypt into the next gen- 
eration. Berenice's mother, Apama, came from the 
house of the Seleucids, also successor rulers to 
Alexander with an empire centered in Asia Minor. 
She opposed Berenice's marriage, as did Antigonus 
Gonatus of Macedonia, who had concluded an 
alliance with the Seleucids. The marriage was also 
opposed by the home-rule partisans of Cyrene. 

After her father's death, Berenice's mother 
invited the half brother of Antigonus Gonatus, the 
handsome Demetrius the Fair, to come to Cyrene 
and marry Berenice. Sources, sometimes unclear 
about this web of relationships, especially with 
regard to the women, differ as to whether Apama 
or Berenice married Demetrius. They agree that he 
became Apama's lover. 

Fearful of the intentions of her mother and 
Demetrius, Berenice, who was about 18 years old, 
led a successful revolt in 255. Demetrius was killed 
in Apama's bedroom, despite Apama's attempt to 
shield him with her own body. Berenice prevented 
any harm to her mother. 

In 247, shortly after he became ruler, Berenice 
married Ptolemy III. They had four children. One 
son, Magas, was scalded to death in his bath by 
another son, the future Ptolemy IV Philopator, 
who felt that Berenice favored Magas. A daughter, 
Arsinoe III Philopator, married her brother Ptol- 
emy IV, and another daughter, Berenice, died in 
238. In all accounts, Berenice's marriage was suc- 
cessful. It has given rise to one of the famous stories 

Berenice II of Cyrene 

(Date: 246 B.c.E-221 b.c.e. 1967.152.626, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 

of antiquity. When Ptolemy embarked on a cam- 
paign to Syria in aid of his sister, Berenice Syra, 
Berenice vowed to dedicate to the gods a lock of her 
hair if he returned safely. According to a literary tra- 
dition that the Roman poet Catullus was said to 
have borrowed from the earlier poet Callimachus, 
Berenice deposited her tresses at the temple of Aph- 
rodite in Alexandria. The hair disappeared, and 
Conon, a Greek astronomer residing in Alexandria 
in the imperial service, rediscovered the tresses in a 
constellation of stars he named the Lock of Ber- 
enice. It is known today as the Coma Berenices. 

After the death of her husband in 221, Berenice 
ruled jointly with her son Ptolemy IV Her power 
was soon challenged by one of the ministers, Sosi- 
bius. Rivalry between mother and minister domi- 
nated imperial affairs. Chafing under his mother's 
domination, Ptolemy IV had Sosibius assassinate 
Berenice in 221 b.c.e. A decade later in 21 1 or 210 
he established an eponymous priesthood and a 
special cult in her honor. 


Catullus. Poems 66. 
Justin. Epitome 26.3. 


Berenice III Cleopatra 

Polybius. Histories 5-36.1. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, \95l, passim. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 239. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984, passim. 

[b] Berenice III Cleopatra 

(second-first century b.c.e.) Greek: Egypt 

Berenice III Cleopatra ruled Egypt jointly with her 
father and then for short time independently. Her 
mother was either Cleopatra IV or Cleopatra V 
Selene. Her father was Ptolemy IX Soter II, also 
known as Lathyrus. 

She remained in Egypt after her father was 
driven into exile and in 102 or 101 b.c.e. married 
her uncle, Ptolemy X Alexander I. In the twisted 
web of relationships among the Ptolemies, Alexan- 
der was the youngest son of Berenice's grand- 
mother. The marriage took place shortly after the 
death of her grandmother, who had been coruler 
with Alexander. Berenice fled with Alexander after 
he was deposed in a popular revolt in 89. They 
went to Syria, where he was killed the next year. 
She returned to Egypt, where her father had once 
again assumed control, and became coruler with 
him. He died in 80, leaving Berenice his heir. 

The women around Berenice were anxious that 
she marry a male kinsman and appoint him cor- 
uler. There was good reason for concern. Rome 
depended on Egypt for its corn and was positioned 
to exert its influence over Egyptian affairs. Taking 
the initiative, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, then dictator 
of Rome, sent a son of Ptolemy X Alexander to 
Egypt to marry Berenice and become Ptolemy XI 
Alexander II. 

Neither Berenice nor the people of Alexandria 
welcomed the new arrival. Nineteen days after he 
wedded Berenice, in 80 b.c.e., he had her mur- 
dered. Angered by the murder of Berenice, whom 
the admired, the Alexandrians revolted, and Ptol- 

emy XI Alexander II, the last direct male descen- 
dant of Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy I, 
died in ignominy. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 1.102. 
Cicero. De lege agrarian 1A1. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, passim. 

[b] Berenice IV Cleopatra 

(first century b.c.e.) Greek: Egypt 

Berenice ruled Egypt for two to three years before 
she was murdered in a struggle for power with her 
father, Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysus Auletes. She 
was either the daughter or the sister of Cleopatra 
VI Tryphaena. Auletes was a weak man. He used 
bribes that depleted his own wealth and placed tax 
burdens upon the populace to strengthen his claim 
to rule. In 58 b.c.e. he went to Rome to seek 
Roman support against a threatened revolt. In his 
absence Berenice and Cleopatra VI Tryphaena were 
recognized as joint rulers by the Alexandrians. The 
latter died after one year, and Berenice ruled for 
two more years (58/57-56/55 b.c.e.). 

The Alexandrians insisted that Berenice marry. 
They sought to both strengthen Berenice's position 
and preclude the claims of Auletes. Choices were 
limited, and two potential matches fell through. A 
hasty marriage was arranged for Berenice with a 
Seleucid whose behavior was so crude that the 
Alexandrians called him "Fish-packer." Berenice 
had him strangled within a few days. In the mean- 
time, Auletes had journeyed to Ephesus where he 
hoped to bribe Gabinius, the Roman proconsul of 
Syria, to secure his position in Alexandria. Gabin- 
ius restored Auletes in 55, and her father immedi- 
ately ordered Berenice's execution. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 39.57 ■ 

Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 13.13.1; 

Strabo. Geography 12.3.34. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985 , passim. 



Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 

Schocken, 1984, p. 24. 
Skeat, Theodore Cressy. The Reigns of the Ptolemies. Munich: 

Beck, 1969, pp. 37-39. 

[b] Berenice Syra 
(c. 280-246 b.c.e.) 
Greek: Egypt and Antioch 

Berenice struggled to control the Seleucid Empire 
and failed. Born about 280 b.c.e. to Arsinoe I and 
Ptolemy II Philadelphus, in 252, she became the 
pawn in a dynastic marriage arrangement between 
Ptolemy and the Seleucid Antiochus II. With a 
dowry so large that she was referred to as "Dowry 
Bearer" (Phernophorus), Ptolemy hoped her mar- 
riage would neutralize Antiochus as he pursued war 
against Antigonus Gonatus in Macedonia. 

Berenice's dowry probably encompassed the ter- 
ritory Ptolemy had previously captured from 
Antiochus. Since she was almost 30, it was said 
that Ptolemy also sent jars of Nile water to encour- 
age her fertility. Despite wealth and the birth of a 
son, the union was no bargain for Antiochus or the 
Seleucids. The marriage opened a conflict between 
Berenice and Laodice I, Antiochus's first wife, 
whom he had repudiated as a condition for the 
alliance with Berenice. 

The women's conflict rent the empire. Laodice, 
with whom Antiochus had had four children, 
moved herself and her family from Antioch to 
Ephesus. Henceforth, both cities served as capitals 
of the empire. In 251, after Antiochus assured Ber- 
enice that her infant son would be his heir, he 
returned to Laodice and declared the latter's 20- 
year-old son his successor. Antiochus promptly 

Berenice, who remained in Antioch, charged 
that Laodice had poisoned Antiochus and pressed 
the claims of her son. A number of cities in Syria, 
including Antioch, supported her. She also 
appealed for aid to her father, Ptolemy II. Her 
message reached Egypt shortly after her father's 
death. Her brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes, sent a 
fleet to aid her. 

Laodice bribed the chief magistrate of Antioch 
to kidnap Berenice's son. Berenice pursued the 
kidnappers in a chariot, striking the chief magis- 
trate with a spear and killing him with a stone. The 
child, however, was dead. Berenice appealed to the 
people. The magistrates who had colluded in the 
murder became fearful. They produced a child 
whom they claimed was Berenice's son, but they 
refused to release him to Berenice. 

Berenice moved into a palace in Daphne, a sub- 
urb of Antioch, guarded by Galatian soldiers and 
her women retainers and supporters. In 246, assas- 
sins sent by Laodice attacked and murdered Ber- 
enice, despite the efforts of the women to shield 
her with their bodies. As a final note, although her 
brother's fleet arrived too late to save her, her 
retainers concealed her death until his arrival and 
thereby enabled her brother to rally to his side all 
those in Syria who supported Berenice, precipitat- 
ing the Third Syrian War (246-241 b.c.e.). 


Appian. Syrian Wars 65. 

Justin. Epitome 27 M, 4. 

Polyaenus. Strategemata 8.50. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri 7X9.10.1. 
Bevan, Edwyn B. The House of Selecus. 2 vols. London: 

Edward Arnold, 1902, pp. 181 ff. 
Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 

London: Methuen, 1951, pp. 86-88. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 87 ff. 
Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 

Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 239. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 

Schocken, 1984, pp. 14, 17. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaf 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 10. 

[a] Bilistiche 

(third century b.c.e.) 
Greek or Phoenician: Egypt 
self-made woman 

Bilistiche's background is uncertain. Her beauty 
and astuteness, however, are well attested. She had 



once been a slave brought to Alexandria. Described 
as an Argive freedwoman much sought after by 
men, her name suggests she may have been Mace- 
donian or Phoenician in origin or ancestry. 

She grew rich and famous as the favored lover 
of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. She was the First 
woman of her background to sponsor horses in the 
Olympic games. Her horses won the four-horse 
chariot race in 268 b.c.e. and the two-horse race at 
the next festival. She managed her wealth well. 
There is a record of her having made a loan in 239 
or 238 when she was well into old age. 

Among other honors, she was appointed to an 
eponymous priesthood, and Ptolemy II dedicated 
shrines and temples to Aphrodite in her honor. 
The date of her death is not known. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 13.596. 

Plutarch. Moralia: Amatorius 753f. 

Harris, H. A. Sport in Greece and Rome. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cor- 
nell University Press, 1972, pp. 178-79. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984, pp. 53-55. 

(U Blaesilla 

(c. 383-c. 384 c.e.) 
Christian ascetic 

Roman: Rome 

Blaesilla embraced an ascetic regime that killed her. 
Her mother, Paula the Elder, was a leader in the 
new movement of Christian monasticism. Blaesil- 
la's family reached back to the esteemed Cornelia 
(2) and the famed Scipio in the second century b. 
c.e. Her father was the Roman senator, Toxotius, 
from a well-established Greek family. She had three 
sisters and a brother. Paulina and Rufina died 
young, and the third, Eustochium, followed her 
mother to Palestine where they founded a monas- 
tery and worked with the eminent ascetic Jerome to 
translate the Bible from Greek to Latin. Her brother 
remained in Rome, married, and his daughter, the 
younger Paula, succeeded her grandmother and 
aunt as director of the monastery. 

Blaesilla's mother was influenced by her friend, 
Marcella, and the spreading news of monastic 
life in Egypt. The women altered their personal 

demeanor and urban households to conform to a 
life of rigorous prayer, study, and chaste widow- 
hood. Paula encouraged her youngest daughter 
Eustochium to join them and sent her to live with 
Marcella, who had gained a reputation as a Chris- 
tian teacher. 

Paula discouraged her other children from fol- 
lowing her lifestyle. Her daughter Rufina died after 
she had been betrothed and Paulina married, but 
died in childbirth. Blaesilla also married. She 
became a widow less than a year later. Before her 
marriage, she enjoyed the luxuries afforded the 
daughter of a very wealthy Roman patrician fam- 
ily. She loved clothing, makeup, and extravagant 
hairstyles. She surrounded herself with soft silks 
and pillows. However, she became seriously ill 
after the death of her husband. When she recov- 
ered, she rejected any proposal to remarry, despite 
the urging of her mother, and began to adopt an 
increasingly severe and disturbing daily regime. 

Blaesilla fasted frequently, ate sparingly, dressed 
in the simplest coarse dark clothing, eschewed 
ornaments, and spent most of her time reading 
religious texts and praying. Her austerity was so 
severe that it aroused criticism as inappropriate 
fanaticism from Christians and pagans alike. Her 
regime also took its toll on her body. Dressed in 
clothing no better than that of a slave, she was pale 
and could barely stand upright or walk, but, how- 
ever weak, she always had a Christian text in her 

Her piety won Jerome's praise and increasingly 
distressed more moderate Christians around her. 
The personal, as well as social and economic bene- 
fits, to the community from marriage, children, 
and family were of lesser value for Jerome than the 
individual quest for salvation. He viewed lifelong 
virginity as women's greatest virtue, followed by a 
prayerful and celibate widowhood as a poor sec- 
ond. His asceticism, which rejected cleanliness, the 
comforts and pleasures of well-made clothing, and 
good food in favor of fasting and uncomfortable 
drab clothing, elevated the value of bodily suffer- 
ing and prayer. It was an inversion of good and bad 
that appeared abnormal and often abhorrent to 
pagans and many Christians. Even among those 



Christians who admired the ascetic self-discipline, 
few chose to join. 

Blaesilla, still in her 20s, died. At the funeral, 
her mother, Paula, fainted from the taunts of dem- 
onstrators blaming her for her daughters extreme 
lifestyle. Jerome also received his share of the 
blame. He wrote a letter to Paula, which expressed 
his sadness at Blaesillas death and that ascetics, like 
him, were not welcome by the larger Roman Chris- 
tian community. They blamed men like him for 
misleading women like Blaesilla and for her death 
from fasting. 

In 385, not long after Blaesillas death, Paula 
and Eustochium, along with an entourage, left 
Rome to join Jerome in Jerusalem. 


Jerome. Letters XXXVIII, XXXIX., xxxiv, xxii. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 162. 

McNamara, Jo Anne. "Cornelia's Daughters: Paula and 
Eustochium," Women's Studies (1984), 11.9-27. 


(first century c.E.) 

Celtic: Britain 

Boudicca led a revolt of the Iceni in East Anglia 
against the Roman settlements in Britain. She was 
the wife of Prasutagus, whom the Romans had 
made a client-king. He died in 59 or 60 c.e., and 
in his will he named the emperor Nero coheir with 
Boudicca and her daughters in the hope that this 
would insure the stability of his lands and his 

His effort was in vain. Roman imperial agents 
whipped Boudicca and raped her daughters. They 
pillaged the lands of the Iceni and confiscated 
estates of prominent families. Heavy Roman taxa- 
tion, complicated by the harsh demands of money 
lenders who supplied the silver and gold against 
the security of land, caused others to ally them- 
selves with the Iceni. 

Led by Boudicca, the Iceni, assisted by the Tri- 
novantes, revolted in 60 c.e. A large woman with 
long tawny hair flowing down to her hips, a harsh 
voice, and blazing eyes. She held a spear ready while 
leading her troops into battle, and she terrified the 
Romans. Her forces plundered the Roman strong- 
holds at Colchester, Verulamium, and London. 

In time, she was defeated by a large and orga- 
nized Roman force and she committed suicide. 
Damned with faint praise, the ancients wrote that 
she possessed greater intelligence than most 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 62.1—12. 

Tacitus. Agricola 16.1—2. 

Tacitus. Annates 14.31-37. 

Dudley, Donald R., and Graham Webster. The Rebellion of 
Boudicca. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962, passim. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 256. 


(third century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Italy 

Busa was a woman of unknown background and 
great wealth. In 216 b.c.e. she resided in Canus- 
ium, the town in Apulia to which the Roman gen- 
eral Publius Cornelius Scipio retreated in disarray 
with some 10,000 soldiers after their devastating 
defeat by Hannibal at Cannae. 

Townspeople provided shelter for the fleeing 
soldiers. To regroup, Scipio needed more than 
shelter; Busa gave him food, clothing, and finan- 
cial support, providing the means to raise new sol- 
diers and rearm. Busa was honored by the Roman 
Senate at the end of the war. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 22.52.7; 54.1—3. 
Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorahilium 

libri 1X4.8.2. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, p. 23. 



[b] Caecilia 

(first century c.E.) Roman: Italy 
mother of Pliny the Younger 

Caecilia was with her son in Misenum on the Bay 
of Naples when Mount Vesuvius erupted in August 
79 c.e. She begged her son to leave her, but the 1 8- 
year-old Pliny refused. Together they walked out 
of the town. Both escaped unharmed. 

Caecilia was a member of the Plinii, a provin- 
cial family that was wealthy and well connected. 
Her husband owned estates in Comum (Como). 
Widowed when her son was still young, there is no 
indication that she married again. Her son was 
adopted by his uncle, Pliny the Elder, a famous 
writer and naturalist. The elder Pliny stayed too 
long to observe the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 
and was killed. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 6.20. 

Caecilia Metella (I) 

(second-first century b.c.e.) 
power broker 

Roman: Rome 

Caecilia Metella was a widow already 50 years old 
when she married Lucius Cornelius Sulla. It was 
the marriage of the Roman social season. She 

gained a political husband on the way up; he 
gained a wife with wealth and connections. The 
subsequent years may well have been more difficult 
and bloody than she had anticipated; however, 
only death ended their relationship. 

Sulla was not her first husband. Born into the 
Metelli clan, her relatives held the office of consul 
or censor and celebrated triumphs 12 times within 
a 12-year period. Her father was Lucius Caecilius 
Metellus Delmaticus, consul in 1 19 b.c.e. Her first 
husband, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, was wealthy, a 
consul, and a princeps senatus, the senior member 
of the Senate. They had three children, including 
Aemelia (2). Caecilia Metella married Sulla in 88 
b.c.e., after the death of Scaurus. With the support 
of the Metelli, the 50-year-old Sulla became consul 
in the same year. She was his fourth wife, and as 
with his earlier marriages, he had married her to 
forge an alliance with her influential and wealthy 
family. With Sulla she had twins: Faustus Corne- 
lius Sulla and Fausta. 

When Lucius Cornelius Cinna seized control of 
Rome in 87 and ordered Sulla removed from his 
command, Caecilia Metella escaped from Rome 
with her children and a year later, in 86 joined 
Sulla in Greece. Although their property in Rome 
was attacked and their houses burned, Sulla refused 
to accept Cinnas authority. They returned to Italy, 


Caenis Antonia 

and Sulla's army defeated the opposition forces. He 
entered Rome victorius. In 82 he was elected 

Caecilia Metella did not live long after his vic- 
tory. She died from an illness that Sulla may have 
transmitted to her and that was sufficiently conta- 
gious for the priests to have forbidden him to be 
with her or to have her funeral in the house. To 
avoid ritual contamination, to observe the strict 
letter of the law, and perhaps to satisfy his own 
fears, he transported her to a neutral house and 
divorced her posthumously. Her funeral, however, 
allowed no misunderstanding of his feelings. Ignor- 
ing his own recent funerary law, he spared no 
expense on her burial. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Sulla 6.10-12; 
22.1; 35.1-2. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 267. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 134. 

Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1963, pp. 20, 31. 

Caecilia Metella (2) 

(second-first century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Caecilia Metella, born into one of Rome's wealthi- 
est and most illustrious families, died with an 
unsavory reputation. Her father was Lucius 
Metellus Calvus, consul in 142 b.c.e., and her hus- 
band was Lucius Licinius Lucullus, praetor in 104. 
Her husband was convicted of bribery, and she was 
reputed to be promiscuous. 

She had two sons. The eldest, Lucius Licinius 
Lucullus, supported and served under the general 
Lucius Cornelius Sulla. He was an excellent soldier 
and administrator and served as consul in 74. The 
younger son was Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus, 
consul in 73. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Lucullus 1. 

[b] Caedicia 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
possible conspirator 

Caedicia was exiled from Italy without a trial in 
the aftermath of the Pisonian conspiracy against 
the emperor Nero in 65 c.e. Her husband, Flavius 
Scaevinus, was the conspirator designated to stab 
Nero. Scaevinus was a man of senatorial rank 
whose mind was said to have been destroyed by 
debauchery. He was betrayed by a servant. The 
exact role played by Caedicia in the conspiracy is 


Tacitus. Annates 15.49, 53-55, 70-71. 

[b] Caenis Antonia 

(?— 75 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
self-made woman 

Caenis Antonia spanned the decades from Julio- 
Claudian rule to the Flavians. She was a mature 
woman when she became the lover of the future 
emperor Vespasian. Earlier, in 31 c.e., she was a 
freedwoman secretary of the younger Antonia, 
and it was she who was said to have carried the let- 
ter from Antonia to the emperor Tiberius describ- 
ing the treachery of the emperor's confidant Lucius 
Aelius Sejanus. When Antonia demanded that 
Caenis Antonia destroy the message about Sejanus 
after Tiberius had the information, she was said to 
have responded that she could not erase her 

Caenis Antonia and Vespasian became lovers 
during the lifetime of his wife, Domitilla Flavia 
(i). After her death, they lived as husband and 
wife. She was a woman reputed to like money and 
power. During her years with the emperor Vespa- 
sian, she acquired vast sums by selling state priest- 
hoods and offices including positions as governor, 
general, and procurator. She died in 75 c.e. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 64.1—4. 
Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Vespasian 3. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 131. 



Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 126. 

[b] Caesaria 

(?— 556 c.e.) Roman: Syria, Alexandria 
devout Christian 

After she was widowed, Caesaria founded a mon- 
astery where she wanted to live out her life. It was 
near Alexandria in Egypt. Her husband's name is 
unknown. However, she had connections with the 
imperial family in Constantinople, possibly 
through Anastasius I, emperor in the West, who 
came from Samosata on the Euphrates. At some 
point in her life, she received the honorary title 
patricia, usually given by the emperor for services 
rendered. She evidently was quite wealthy. As was 
not unusual in the East, she was a Monophysite, 
which in the debate of the times about the nature 
of Christ, placed her politically as well as theologi- 
cally in the camp with the Augusta Theodora, 
who actively sought to spread the Monophysite 
doctrine in the East. 

She corresponded with Severus, bishop of 
Antioch, the leading theologian of the Monophy- 
sites. The monastery she founded appeared to have 
separate quarters for men and women. She lived in 
the monastery for some 1 5 years until she died. 


John ofEphesus. Vitae Sanctorum Orientalium 54—56. 

John of Niku. The Chronicle of John ofNiku 90.13; 1 16.6. 

Severus of Antioch. Letters. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 248-249. 

Calpurnia (I) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
wife of Julius Caesar 

Roman: Rome 

Calpurnia married Gaius Julius Caesar in 59 b.c.e. 
to cement an alliance between Caesar and her 
father, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, consul 
in 58. She was 18 years old and Caesars third wife. 

She remained attached to Caesar even as he 
contemplated a marriage with the daughter of 
Mark Antony in 53. She warned him against going 
to the Senate on the fateful Ides of March 44 b.c.e. 
After his assassination, she turned his papers over 
to Mark Antony along with a large sum of money. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Caesar 63. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Caesar 21; 81. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 279. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 279. 

Calpurnia (2) 

(first century c.e.) 
self-made woman 

Roman: Rome 

Calpurnia revealed to the emperor Claudius the 
scandalous behavior of his wife Valeria Messal- 
lina and her lover Gaius Silius. Calpurnia was one 
of Claudius's two favorite freedwomen. Bribed 
with promises of gifts and influence by Messallina's 
political enemy Narcissus, the powerful freedman 
secretary of the emperor, Calpurnia described the 
mock marriage that had taken place between Mes- 
sallina and Silius. Claudius had both Messallina 
and Silius put to death in 48 c.e. 


Tacitus. Annales 1 1.29-30. 

Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 67. 

Calpurnia (3) 

(first-second century c.e.) 
wife of Pliny the Younger 

Roman: Rome 

Calpurnia married Pliny the Younger after the 
death of his second wife in 97 c.e. Her grandfa- 
ther, Calpurnius Fabatus, and Pliny both came 
from Comum. Pliny described Calpurnia to her 
aunt, Calpurnia Hispulla, in rapturous terms. 
He praised Calpurnia's discerning interest in his 
books and writings. She was supportive when he 



was involved with a case and glad to have his com- 
pany when he was free. She was, he claimed, an 
ideal woman. 

Calpurnia had a miscarriage and went to Cam- 
pania to recover. Pliny waited for her letters and 
begged her to write as often as twice a day. Her 
husband attributed her miscarriage to her youthful 
ignorance of the hazards of pregnancy. Calpurnia 
accompanied Pliny to Bithynia-Pontus in north- 
west Asia Minor, where he had been sent by the 
emperor Trajan in 1 10 to reorganize the disorderly 
province. She returned to Italy on news of the 
death of her grandfather. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 4.19; 6.4, 7; 7.5; 8.10, 11, 19; 
9.36; 10.120. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 279. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 130. 

[b] Calpurnia Hispulla 

(first-second century c.e.) Roman: Italy 
woman of means and character 

Calpurnia Hispulla was a close friend of Pliny the 
Younger and his family, especially his mother, Cae- 
cilia. Although they owned estates in different 
parts of Italy, her father, Calpurnius Fabatus, had 
been born in Comum, the same town that was the 
home of Pliny's family. She raised her niece, 
Calpurnia (3), who at a relatively young age 
became Pliny's third wife. Pliny attributed many of 
the qualities of his wife's character to the influence 
of Calpurnia Hispulla. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 4. 1 9; 8. 1 1 . 

[b] Calvia Crispinilla 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political survivor 

Calvia Crispinilla prospered by pandering to the 
tastes of the times. Her lineage is unknown, but 

she lived within the imperial circle under Nero, 
survived the transition to the Flavians, and died a 
rich old woman. During the reign of Nero, Calvia 
arranged entertainments, apparently lascivious in 
nature. Under her care was the young Greek 
eunuch Sporus, who resembled Nero's wife Pop- 
paea Sabina (2), whom he had killed in a fit of 

Calvia joined the conspiracy against Nero. She 
encouraged Lucius Clodius Macer, the governor in 
Africa, to revolt in 68 c.e. and supported his policy 
of cutting off the corn supply to Rome. Despite 
her visibility, she avoided retribution after Clodius 
Macer was killed by orders of Servius Sulpicius 
Galba, who supplanted Nero. She was said to have 
used her popularity to secure a husband behind 
whose propriety she could stand invisible. 

Calvia managed to survive the reigns of Galba, 
Otho, and Vitellius and to become richer with 
each regime. As time passed, her wealth and the 
absence of any children as heirs made her very 
attractive to men whose fortunes had waned or 
been lost, as well as to all other kinds of adventur- 
ers and fortune hunters. She was courted until she 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 62.12.3—4. 

Tacitus. Historiae 1.73. 

Charles-Picard, Gilbert. Augustus and Nero: The Secret of the 

Empire. Trans, by Len Ortzen. New York: Thomas Y 

Crowell Comp., 1965, p. 162. 


(first-second century c.e.) 
financial head of household 

Roman: Italy 

Calvina settled her father's estate and faced insol- 
vency. Her father was C. Plinius Calvinus, part of 
the Plinii, a well-known provincial landowning 
family whose most famous members were the nat- 
uralist Pliny the Elder and his letter-writing 
nephew Pliny the Younger. 

Calvina's father had left his estate encumbered 
and Calvina strapped for cash to meet the out- 
standing notes. She wrote Pliny the Younger about 
the situation. Although not fully knowledgeable of 


Cannutia Crescentina 

the total encumbrances on the estate, Pliny agreed 
that Calvina might have no choice but to sell land. 
If, however, he was the only creditor or the princi- 
pal one, he would surrender his claim and consider 
the 100,000 sesterces that he had loaned her father 
a gift. Pliny also surrendered claim to a second 
100,000 sesterces raised by her father for her 

Pliny encouraged Calvina to accept his offer 
and protect her father's memory. As a friend, he 
would not her father's memory sullied by his hav- 
ing died insolvent. He assured her that the gift 
would not leave him in straitened circumstances; 
although his fortune was small, his expenditures 
were similarly restricted. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 2.4. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 5. 

[b] Cannutia Crescentina 

(?— 213 c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Cannutia Crescentina was one of four Vestal Vir- 
gins condemned in 213 c.e. for violating the vow 
of chastity. The Vestal Virgins guarded the flame of 
Vesta in one of the oldest temples in the Forum. 

In earlier times pollution among Vestal Virgins 
was believed an ill omen for the city. By the third 
century c.e., these old beliefs had declined or given 
way to new kinds of religious experience. None- 
theless, the power of tradition and the historical 
association between the chastity of the Vestal Vir- 
gins and the well-being of Rome exceeded the life 
of the ancient religious belief and maintained a 
hold over the imagination of Rome. 

Crescentina was convicted with Aurelia 
Severa, Clodia Laeta, and Pomponia Rufina 
and condemned to die in the ancient rite of being 
buried alive. She, however, committed suicide by 
jumping off the roof of her house. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 78.16.1-3. 


(first century c.e.) 

Brigantian: Britain 

Cartimandua led the Brigantes, the most populous 
tribe in Britain, for some 26 years, between 43 and 
69 c.e. The last surviving member of the family 
who had traditionally led the tribe, she negotiated 
a treaty with the emperor Claudius to become a 
client state. The treaty brought peace to the north- 
ern border of Roman Britain and prosperity to the 
Brigantes for the six years. 

Her alliance with the Romans, however, was 
controversial. Venutius, her husband, favored 
greater independence. There was a series of politi- 
cal crises. In 51 Cartimandua turned over to the 
Romans a defeated Welsh leader, Caratacus, who 
had fled to the Brigantes. A quarrel ensued between 
Cartimandua and Venutius. Twice between the 
years 52 and 57 Rome intervened on her behalf, 
and the two were reconciled. 

In 69, when Cartimandua discarded Venutius 
in favor of his armor-bearer, Vellocatus, whom she 
made joint ruler, she effectively separated her hus- 
band from his most important client-chief and 
provided herself with male support more favorable 
for her policy of close ties with Rome. However, in 
68-69, while the Roman forces in Britain were 
otherwise occupied, Venutius and his supporters 
defeated Cartimandua in battle. 

Rome rescued her but did not restore her to her 
former position, and thereby lost the opportunity 
to maintain a strong and friendly buffer state on its 
northern British border. 

Tacitus. Annates 12.36. 

Tacitus. Historiae 3.45. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 296-297. 

Richmond, I. A. Journal of Roman Studies (1954): pp. 43 fF. 

[b] Casta Caecilia 

(first-second century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
acquitted of corruption 

Caecilia Casta was indicted along with her hus- 
band, Caecilius Classicus, her daughter, and her 



son-in-law on charges of malfeasance for behavior 
and acts incurred during her husband's tenure as 
provincial governor in Baetica, Spain. It was quite 
usual for Roman officials to augment their per- 
sonal fortunes when serving abroad; it also was not 
unusual for them to be sued on their return to 
Rome, particularly if they had been especially ava- 
ricious. Only after Rome became an empire, how- 
ever, did women frequently join their husbands on 
posts abroad and become subject to suit. 

Castas husband died before the trial began. 
Pressed by the Baeticians, the Senate voted to allow 
the prosecution to proceed against Casta, her 
daughter, her son-in-law, and her husband's estate. 
Pliny the Younger acted for the Senate as one of 
two prosecuting counsels. 

There was direct evidence against Caecilius 
Classicus. Letters were found among his papers 
boasting of the amounts of money he had taken. 
In one, addressed to a woman in Rome, he claimed 
that he would return to Rome with 4 million ses- 
terces. To gather evidence against Casta, the Baeti- 
cians had secured the services of Norbanus 
Licinianus, known as the Inquisitor for his style in 
court. During the trial in 100 C.E., however, one of 
the witnesses accused Norbanus of conspiring with 
Casta to upset any case against her. 

The disposition of the charges rested with the 
Senate, and the consequences could be quite dire, 
ranging from the confiscation of property to death 
or exile. The Senate found the daughter and son- 
in-law not guilty. Classicus's estate was stripped of 
any gains, and the confiscated funds were to be 
divided among the victims. Any payments made to 
creditors in the period since the end of his gover- 
norship were similarly to be returned. His residual 
estate, which consisted mostly of his debts, was 
awarded to his daughter. 

Much to Pliny's disgust, Casta was found not 
guilty. Since her daughter, not she, was the residual 
legatee, she escaped unscathed, not even responsi- 
ble for the unpaid debts on her husband's estate. 
Norbanus, however, was found guilty of colluding 
with Casta and was exiled. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 3.9. 

Marshall, A. J. "Women on Trial before the Roman Sen- 
ate." Classical Views 34 (1990): pp. 333-366. 


(?— fifth century C.E.) 

political player 

Roman: Constantinople 

Castricia was one of Augusta Aelia Eudoxia's close 
friends. She was also friends with Marsa and 
Eugraphia, two women of similar class and 
wealth. Their friendship became a political alliance 
on more than one occasion. 

Her husband, Saturninus, who held the office 
of Master of the Soldiers, was one of several offi- 
cials surrendered by the emperor Arcadius to 
appease the Goth leader Ganais when he was 
poised to invade the city in 399. Saturninus 
awaited execution, when John Chrysostom, bishop 
of Constantinople, interceded and successfully had 
his sentence commuted to exile. 

Whatever goodwill Castricia held for the bishop 
was obliterated in 403. Chrysostom, never the 
most politic of men, attacked rich older women 
who tried to make themselves look younger and 
more attractive with makeup and elaborate hair- 
styles that included paste-on curls. He compared 
their appearance with streetwalkers. Castricia took 
the attack personally and regarded it as a covert 
assault on the power women exercised in the city 
and at the palace. With her women friends she 
went to Eudoxia. Persuaded by them that Chrysos- 
tom held misogynistic views rooted in the original 
sin of Eve and that he was dangerous to the collec- 
tive interests of wealthy and powerful women in 
the city, she led the attack to have him removed. 

Chrysostom was a complicated man who was 
genuinely troubled by the extraordinary wealth of 
a few when most were in want. He also had ambiv- 
alent views about women. He proclaimed from the 
pulpit that they did not belong in the public 
sphere, even though he had close relationships 
with some women of wealth and power in the city. 
He maintained a lifetime correspondence with 
Olympias (3), who he met while bishop. Salvina, 
who was a part of the intimate imperial circle, 
was also among the few to whom he revealed his 


Celerina, Pompeia 

intention to leave the city before it was publicly 
announced. A nuanced appreciation of Chrysos- 
tom's attitude and relationships with women, how- 
ever, was not the way of Constantinople politics. 
The Augusta and her friends successfully forced 
him to resign. 


Palladius. The Lausiac History p. 25. 

Socrates. Historia Ecclesiastica 6.6. 8—12. 

Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica 8.4 4—5. 

Zosimus. New History 5.18 6—8. 

Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopedia of the Ancient World: Clas- 
sical Tradition. Edited by Manfred Landfester, in col- 
laboration with Hubert Conick and Helmut Schneider. 
Boston: Brill, 2006. Vol. 1. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 271. 

Celerina, Pompeia 

(first-second century C.E.) 
friend and wealthy mother-in-. 

Roman: Rome 

w of Pliny the 

Pompeia Celerina, the daughter of Pompeius Celer, 
was a wealthy woman. She married twice. Her 
daughter was the second wife of Pliny the Younger. 
The daughter died about 97 c.e., but Celerina and 
Pliny remained friends. He was probably closer to 
her age than that of her daughter. 

Celerina owned several villas in Umbria and 
Perusia. Pliny considered the purchase of a nearby 
estate. The price was 3 million sesterces. Somewhat 
strapped for cash since his wealth was chiefly in 
land, he planned to borrow from Celerina. He felt 
quite comfortable using her money as if it were his 
own. Celerina, in turn, used Pliny's connections 
with the emperor Trajan. She requested the 
appointment of her kinsman, Caelius Clemens, to 
a proconsulship. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 1.4; 3.19; 10.51. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 126. 


(fourth century b.c.e.) 
mother of Epicurus 

Greek: Samos 

Chaerestrate was the mother of Epicurus, the 
famous philosopher and founder of one of the 
great ancient schools of philosophy. Her husband 
was Neocles, an Athenian schoolmaster, who 
immigrated to Samos, an island off the west coast 
of Asia Minor. Possibly, she read charms for 

Chaerestrate had four sons. Epicurus was born 
in 341 b.c.e. The others, whose dates are uncer- 
tain, were Neocles, Chaeredemus, and Arisobulus. 


Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 


(first century b.c.e.) 
office manager 

Greek: Sicily 

Chelidon was of Greek origin and an associate of 
Gaius Verres, praetor in 74 b.c.e. and governor of 
Sicily from 73 to 71. In 70, after his return to 
Rome, Verres was tried on charges of corruption 
while holding the office of praetor. Marcus Tullius 
Cicero, noted orator and statesman, was one of the 

Chelidon had already died by the time of the 
trial; nevertheless, she was very much a part of 
Cicero's speech to the court. Cicero disparaged her 
as a meretrix, a "street-walking prostitute," and 
attacked Verres for his relationship with her. 
Cicero's description of her role in Verres's adminis- 
tration, however, belied his disparagement. She 
had her own household, and Verres used her house- 
hold as his headquarters. She was surrounded by 
people seeking favors, as was the praetor himself. 
She was a person with whom people transacted 
their business: She oversaw payments and promis- 
sory notes. 

In short, Cicero's description suggests she may 
have been closer to Verres's office manager than a 
prostitute. Chelidon also may well have had the 
intelligence for business that the corrupt Verres 



found useful. In a final irony, Chelidon left Verres 
a legacy in her will. 


Cicero. In Verrum 2.1, 120 ff., 136 ft.; 2.2, 116. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 66-67. 

Hillard, Tom. "On Stage, Behind the Curtain: Images of 
Politically Active Women in the Late Roman Republic." 
In Stereotypes of Women in Power: Historical Perspectives 
and Revisionist Views, ed. by Barbara Garlick, Suzanne 
Dixon, and Pauline Allen. New York: Greenwood Press, 
1992, pp. 42-45. 

desertion and the politics of succession led Cle- 
onymus to ally himself with Pyrrhus against Sparta 
in 272 b.c.e. When an attack was imminent, Chi- 
lonis was said to have kept a rope around her neck 
so that she could kill herself rather than suffer cap- 
ture by her former husband. Through a defense 
strategy aided by the city's women, the attack on 
Sparta was repelled. Chilonis was spared. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pyrrhus 26.8-9; 

Chilonis (I) 

(seventh century b.c.e. 

Greek: Sparta 

Chilonis allegedly switched places with her hus- 
band to allow him to escape from prison. Chilonis 
married the Spartan ruler Theopompus (720-675 
b.c.e.). After Theopompus was captured by the 
Arcadians, Chilonis traveled to Arcadia. Impressed 
by her fortitude and audacity in undertaking such 
a trip, the Arcadians allowed her to visit her hus- 
band in prison. Chilonis exchanged clothes with 
her husband, and he escaped while she remained 
behind. Theopompus later captured a priestess of 
Diana in a procession at Pheneus. He exchanged 
her for Chilonis. 


Polyaenus. Strategemata 8.39. 

Der Kleine Pauly; Lexikon der Antike, ed. by Konrat lulius 
Furchtegott and Walther Sontheimer. Stuttgart, Ger- 
many: A. Druckenmuller, 1984, p. 1,146. 

Chilonis (3) 

(third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Sparta 

Chilonis twice chose exile. She was the daughter of 
the Spartan king Leonidas II, who was a foe of the 
land and debt reforms initiated under his predeces- 
sor, Agis IV. She married Cleombrotus, who sup- 
planted her father as king and forced him into 
exile. Chilonis went into exile with her father. 
When her father returned and ordered Cleombro- 
tus exiled in 241 b.c.e., she again went into exile, 
this time with her husband. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Agesilaus 1 7 ff. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cleomenes 

Mosse, Claude. "Women in the Spartan Revolutions of 
the Third Century B.C." In Women's History and Ancient 
History, ed. by Sarah B. Pomeroy. Chapel Hill: Univer- 
sity of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 146, 147. 

Chilonis (2) 

(third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Sparta 

Chilonis was willing to commit suicide rather than 
fall into the hands of her ex-husband. She was the 
granddaughter of a deceased ruler of Sparta and 
had married Cleonymus, son of the former king of 
Sparta, Cleomenes II. She was much younger than 
her husband and beautiful. 

After she fell in love with Acrotatus, whose 
father ruled Sparta, she left her husband. Her 


(fourth century b.c.e.) 

Galatian: Asia Minor 

Chiomara was the wife of Ortiagon, a chief of the 
Tectosagi Gauls in Asia Minor. They were defeated 
by the Romans near what is now Ankara, in Turkey. 
Chiomara was taken prisoner and raped by a centu- 
rion, who afterwards arranged for her ransom. 

During the exchange, she instructed the Gauls 
to kill the centurion. His head was cut off, and 
Chiomara wrapped it in the folds of her dress. 


Claudia (I) 

When she returned to her husband, she threw the 
head at his feet and revealed the rape. Chiomara 
was admired for her intelligence and spirit. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 38.24. 
Plutarch. Moralia: De mulierum virtutibus 22. 
Polybius. Histories 21.38. 

Hj Claudia (I) 

(third century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
possibly tried for treason 

Claudia was born into a proud patrician family 
and is remembered for her arrogance. Her father 
was Appius Claudius Caecus, the famous censor of 
312 b.c.e. who opened the citizen rolls to include 
a far larger number of Romans and who was 
responsible for building the Appian Way. 

Her brother, Publius Clodius Pulcher, led a 
Roman naval battle against the Carthaginians at 
Drepana in 249 b.c.e. during the First Punic War. 
After disparaging unfavorable omens, he suffered a 
defeat and lost 93 out of 123 ships. The story is 
told that before the battle when the sacred chick- 
ens would not eat, he threw them into the sea, say- 
ing that they could drink instead. 

Claudia revealed a similar disregard for tradi- 
tion. Caught amid the crowds in 246 while attend- 
ing the games in Rome, she was reputed to have 
said that she only wished the crowd could be put 
aboard another fleet and her brother brought back 
from the dead so that he could drown them all and 
clear the mobs from Rome. 

Romans of the third century b.c.e. did not take 
such remarks lightly. Claudia was fined and possi- 
bly tried for treason. 


Aulus Gellius. Noctes Atticae 10.6.1. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 2.2-4. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri IX 1 .4.3; 8.1 .4. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 43. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 382. 

Claudia (2) 

(second century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Claudia was part of the movement for land reform 
in the politics of Rome during the 130s b.c.e. Her 
parents were Antistia (i) and Appius Claudius 
Pulcher, consul in 143 b.c.e. Her sister was Clau- 
dia (3). Claudia married the tribune Tiberius Sem- 
pronius Gracchus. The union cemented his alliance 
with her father in a coalition that supported an 
agrarian law to regulate private usage of public 
land and to distribute public land to the landless. 

The reforms addressed the need for citizens, 
especially veterans to have sufficient land to sup- 
port themselves and to disperse the increasing 
numbers of landless who were collecting in Rome 
and transforming Roman life. The alliance of 
Claudia's husband and father deeply divided her 
husband's family. Although the brothers Gaius and 
Tiberius Gracchus, cousins of Claudia's husband, 
were in accord, their sister Sempronia (i) was 
married to Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, 
who bitterly opposed the land commission. 

The marriage between Claudia and Tiberius 
Gracchus was said to have been arranged by their 
fathers over dinner. Antistia, Claudia's mother, was 
furious at not being consulted. She was said to have 
relented, however, since Tiberius was seen as a very 
desirable "catch." (There was a similar story told 
about Aemilia Tertia and her daughter Cornelia 
[2] . Since Tiberius Gracchus was the son of this 
same Cornelia, a remarkable women in her own 
right, the story would appear to be a confusion 
among a group of strong women all of whom were 
kin, albeit of different generations, and all in search 
of desirable marital partners for their daughters.) 

Tiberius Gracchus was murdered by his cousin 
Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica. Hundreds of his 
supporters were also murdered. Nothing is known 
about the widowed Claudia. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Tiberius Gracchus 4. 

Richardson, Keith. Daggers in the Forum: The Revolutionary 
Lives and Violent Deaths of the Gracchus Brothers. Lon- 
don: Cassell, 1976, pp. 41, 46. 


Claudia (4) 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 385. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 38. 

Claudia (3) 

(second century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Claudia (4) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Claudia was a Vestal Virgin and sister of Claudia 
(2). Chosen from among the very young women of 
elite families, the Vestal Virgins maintained the 
flame that assured the continuity and purity of the 
city. They served Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. 
Living in one of the oldest temples in the Forum, 
their well-being was equated with the well-being of 
the city. Impropriety by any one of them was an 
omen of misfortune for Rome. 

They were not, however, immune to the calls of 
honor demanded by family. Claudia was a daugh- 
ter of Antistia (i) and Appius Claudius Pulcher, 
consul in 143 b.c.e. He had led an army in Cisal- 
pine Gaul against the Salassi, whom he defeated at 
the cost of several thousand Roman soldiers. The 
Senate refused him permission to celebrate so 
costly a victory with a procession in Rome. He 
chose to defy the Senate and mount a triumph at 
his own expense. 

According to Roman tradition, a tribune could 
intervene on behalf of the citizenry. In this case, 
Claudia learned that a tribune would intervene 
and prevent her father's triumph. She mounted 
her father's chariot, threw herself into his arms, 
and was carried in the procession. The sanctity of 
her person protected her father from any interfer- 
ence. Claudia appears to have been the first Vestal 
Virgin to use her power to frustrate the will of the 


Cicero. Pro Caelio 34. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 2.4. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 42-43. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, p. 47. 

Claudia was a member of the family who divided 
between republicans and Caesarians during the 
Roman civil wars of the late first century b.c.e. 
Bound together by complicated natal family ties 
further entangled by marriages, divorces, remar- 
riages, and love affairs, Claudia and the women of 
her generation had multiple and sometimes con- 
flicting allegiances. 

Claudia's mother was a Servilia of the Caepio 
family. Claudia's father was the unprincipled and 
arrogant Appius Claudius Pulcher. Her uncle was 
the notorious tribune Publius Clodius Pulcher, 
and her aunt was Clodia (2), the woman Gaius 
Valerius Catullus portrayed in poetry as his faith- 
less lover Lesbia. Claudia was also a niece of Clo- 
dia (1) and Clodia (2). 

Claudia married Marcus Junius Brutus in 54 b. 
c.e., and Servilia (i) became her mother-in-law. 
Brutus was quaestor to her father in Cilicia in 53 
and, like her father, joined the republicans under 
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) 
against Gaius Julius Caesar. In 49, the men went 
with Pompey to Greece, leaving the women 
behind. As the city sat poised between Ceasar and 
the republicans, women such as Claudia sought to 
protect family assets and to assure their family's 
future, whoever the victor. 

Her father died in Greece. After Caesar's defeat 
of Pompey at Pharsalus in 48, Brutus accepted the 
pardon offered by Caesar and assumed control 
over a provincial command. However, her husband 
was a complicated, even tortured and brooding, 
man, who felt conflicted loyalties between his 
mother, a woman of substantial power in Caesar's 
camp, and his step-uncle, the republican Marcus 
Porcius Cato. Brutus, against his mother's wishes, 
divorced Claudia in 45. After her divorce she dis- 
appeared from the historical record. 


Claudia (5) 


Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 389. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, p. 198. 

. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1963, pp. 58-59. 

(D Claudia (5) 

(53? b.c.e.— ) Roman: Rome 
political pawn 

Claudia, or Clodia as she may possibly have been 
called, was the stepdaughter of Mark Antony and a 
niece of Clodia (i), Clodia (2), and Clodia (3). 
In 43 b.c.e., when she was about 10, Antony 
arranged her marriage with Octavian, the future 
emperor Augustus, in order to cement the Second 
Triumvirate, the alliance established that year 
among himself, Octavian, and Marcus Aemilius 

Claudia's father was the notorious Publius Clo- 
dius Pulcher, who had been killed in 52 b.c.e. by 
his hated rival and political enemy Titus Annius 
Milo when they passed each other on the road. Her 
mother was Fulvia (2), who in 45 married Antony 
and unsuccessfully undertook to protect her hus- 
bands interests against the other triumvirs while he 
was in the East. However, the triumvirate lasted 
only for a five-year period, before the events of the 
civil war overtook the accord. Octavian formally 
divorced Claudia, without ever having consum- 
mated the marriage, in 41 b.c.e. Although Claudia 
would have reached a marriageable age anytime 
after 41 or 40, with her mother dead and her step- 
father deeply enmeshed with Cleopatra VII and 
his new family in the East, there is no record of 
marrying: She may well have died young. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 62.1. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 178. 

Delia, Diana. "Fulvia Reconsidered." In Women's History 
and Ancient History, ed. by Sarah B. Pomeroy. Chapel 
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991, p. 202. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 390. 

(D Claudia (6) 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Italy 
member of artistic circle 

Claudia had two husbands, each of whom was an 
artist. Her fist husband composed poetry to music. 
After his death, she married Publius Papinius Sta- 
tius (c. 45-96 c.e.), who came from Naples to set- 
tle in Rome where he established a reputation as a 

She and Statius mingled in eminent circles and 
were part of a group associated with the emperor 
Domitian. Although not wealthy, Statius had suffi- 
cient means to live well. His poetry addressed the 
pleasant possibilities of life. In one poem he urged 
Claudia to leave Rome and return with him to 
Naples; in another and he praised her for nursing 
him through an illness. 

Claudia had one daughter with her first hus- 
band, but no children with Papinius Statius. 


Statius. Silvae 3.5. 

Der Kleine Pauly; Lexikon der Antike, ed. by Konrat Julius 
Furchtegott and Walther Sontheimer. Stuttgart, Ger- 
many: A. Druckenmuller, 1984, p. 396. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,439. 

[a] Claudia Pulchra 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player; exiled 

Claudia Pulchra was a victim in the ceaseless 
struggles for position and power during the reign 
of Tiberius. She was a grandniece of Augustus and 
the daughter of Messalla Appianus, consul in 12 
b.c.e., and the younger Claudia Marcella, 
Augustus's niece. She became the third wife of 
Quinctilius Varus, who owed his career to her 
connections. A military man, he ultimately suf- 
fered an ignominious defeat in Germany and 



committed suicide. They had a son, also named 
Quinctilius Varus. 

The widow Claudia had wealth and standing. 
She was a close friend of her second cousin, the 
elder Agrippina, who had a high profile in the pol- 
itics of the times. Agrippina opposed Tiberius, 
who she believed had caused the death of her hus- 
band. Her enemies became the enemies of her 
friends. One of them, Gnaeus Domitius Afer, 
accused Claudia in 26 c.e. of illicit relations with 
an otherwise unknown man named Furnius, of 
engaging in a plot to poison the emperor Tiberius, 
and of using magic against the emperor. This was a 
familiar triad of accusations used in political battles 
of the period. 

Agrippina interceded with Tiberius on Claudia's 
behalf. She met Tiberius as he was sacrificing to a 
statue of Augustus and demanded to know why he 
would allow Claudia Pulchra to be convicted. 
Claudia, she argued, was a living person, more of 
an image of Augustus than any senseless statue. 
She was not successful. Claudia Pulchra was con- 
victed of lewdness and probably exiled. The fol- 
lowing year, after brought suit against Claudia's 
son, who had inherited his father's substantial 
wealth. By that time, Tiberius had left Rome, and 
the Senate allowed the suit to lapse. 


Tacitus. Annates 4.52. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 147-149. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, pp. 165 ff. 

Marshall, A. J. "Women on Trial before the Roman Sen- 
ate." Classical Views 34 (1990): 333-366, p. 344. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, passim. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 
mother of Euripides 

Greek: Greece 

Cleito was thought to be well born. She was the 
mother of the great Greek tragedian Euripides, 
who was born in 485 b.c.e. Her husband was a 
merchant named Mnesarchus or Mnesarchides. 


Murray, Gilbert. Euripides and His Age. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1965, p. 35. 

[b] Cleoboule 

(c. 407/400- b.c.e.-?) Greek: Athens 
fraud victim; mother of Demosthenes 

Cleoboule was probably an Athenian. She was 
born between 407 and 400 b.c.e. Her father, 
Gylon, had committed treason and fled to the Bos- 
porus after being condemned to death in Athens. 
After 403 b.c.e., his death sentence was commuted 
to a heavy fine. 

Although her father may never have returned to 
Athens, he provided Cleoboule and her elder sister 
Philia with substantial dowries of 5,000 drachmas. 
She married a man named Demosthenes sometime 
early in the 380s. He was a well-to-do Athenian 
citizen; his wealth, with the exception of his house, 
was not in land but in the manufacturing of cut- 
lery, pursued mainly in a home factory with slave 

In 358-384 or 384-383, Cleoboule gave birth 
to a son, also named Demosthenes, who became 
the greatest orator of Athens. She later gave birth 
to a daughter. Her husband died in 377, when her 
son was about seven, and her daughter, about five 
years old. She was left a large estate worth nearly 
14 talents, although its exact amount was kept 
deliberately unclear since her husband sought to 
protect his estate from any claims on her absent 
father. He also left a will in which he appointed his 
brother Aphobus one of three guardians of his 
estate along with another brother, Demophon, 
and a friend, Therippides. 

Under the terms of the will, Cleoboule was to 
have 8,000 drachmas to marry Aphobus. When her 
daughter came of age, she was to have a dowry of 
12,000 drachmas and marry Demophon. Both men 
failed to fulfill the terms of the will: Aphobus did not 
marry Cleoboule, and Demophon did not marry her 
daughter. They did, however, embezzle the inheri- 
tances of both women and, in addition, depleted the 
residual estate, which was to go to Demosthenes. 



Cleoboule raised the children without adequate 
resources. Their finances were so extreme that at 
one time even the fees of Demosthenes' tutor were 
unpaid. Her situation was further complicated by 
her son's constant illnesses. 

Cleoboule looked to her son to right the wrong 
done them. When Demosthenes came of age, he 
took the executors to court. He sued and finally 
won his case after some five years of litigation. In 
the end, however, the family received only a small 
portion of the original estate. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Demosthenes 

Davies, J. K. Athenian Propertied Families, 600—300 B.C. 

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, pp. 113-141. 

[b] Cleobuline 

(sixth century b.c.e.) Greek: Rhodes 

Cleobuline wrote riddles in verse in imitation of 
her father, the philosopher Cleobulus of Rhodes. 
Her father advocated the education of women. 
Cleobuline was a literate woman in the sixth cen- 
tury b.c.e. , a time when few men and fewer women 
could read or write. She was mentioned by Crati- 
nus, one of the greatest poets of Old Attic comedy, 
who named one of his plays after her. 


Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, p. 56. 


(sixth century b.c.e.) 
mother of Pindar 

Greek: Greece 

Cleodice was the mother of the great Greek poet 
Pindar. She gave birth in Boeotia, in central Greece, 
in 518 b.c.e. Her husband was Daiphantus. All 
that is known of her background comes from the 
extant lines of Pindar's poetry, he claimed to be of 
the Aegidae tribe of Sparta, which would mean 
that his parents came from aristocratic families. 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 4.149. 

[H Cleopatra ( I ) 

(fifth century b.c.e.) Greek: Macedonia 
victim of family violence 

Cleopatra married Perdiccas II, ruler of Macedonia 
(c. 450-413 b.c.e.). Widowed with a young son in 
413, she married Archelaus, her grown stepson. 
Although his mother was reputed to have been a 
slave, Archelaus succeeded Perdiccas and was 
guardian of Cleopatra's young child — her former 
husband's heir. 

Archelaus was ruthless. Fearing his ward, he 
pushed him into a well and was said to have 
claimed that he had fallen and drowned while 
chasing his pet goose. Cleopatra's fate after the 
death of her son is unknown. 


Aristotle. Politics 5.131b. 
Plato. Gorgias 471c. 

Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War 2.100. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 15-16. 

Cleopatra (2) 

(fourth century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Greek: Macedonia 

Cleopatra suffered the fury of Olympias (i) after 
the death of Philip II. Cleopatra was the niece of 
Attalos, one of Philip's prominent Macedonian 
generals. Younger than Olympias, she married 
Philip II when Olympias's son by Philip, Alexan- 
der the Great, was a grown man. 

The enmity between the two women and their 
respective supporters was already evident at Cleopa- 
tra's wedding feast, which Alexander attended. 
Attalos proposed a toast calling upon the Macedo- 
nians to ask that the gods grant the bride and 
groom a son so that there would be a legitimate 
heir to the throne. Incensed at the implication, 
Alexander threw a glass of wine in Attalos's face. 
Philip drew his sword and made for Alexander. 
Drunk, Philip tripped and fell on his face. 


Cleopatra (3) 

Cleopatra lived in Macedonia, but Olympias 
and her children, including Alexander, went to 
Epirus. Philip and Alexander later reconciled, and 
Cleopatra gave birth to a son. After the murder of 
Philip II in 336 b.c.e., however, it was Alexander, 
not Cleopatra's child, who became ruler. After 
Alexander established his rule, Olympias returned 
to Macedonia. 

While Alexander was campaigning, Olympias 
killed Cleopatra's infant son and took her revenge 
on the younger woman. Cleopatra either commit- 
ted suicide by hanging herself or was dragged over a 
bronze vessel containing charcoal until she roasted 
to death. Alexander was said to have felt that the 
death was too harsh. He, however, ordered her 
uncle and a number of her kinsmen put to death. 


Justin. Epitome 9.7, 12. 

Pausanias. Description of Greece 8.7.5. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Alexander 

Burn, Andrew Robert. Alexander the Great and the Helle- 
nistic World. London: English Universities Press, 1964, 
pp. 44-45, 64. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 30, 32. 
Tarn, William Woodthorpe. Alexander the Great. 2 vols. 

Boston: Beacon Press, 1956, pp. 2-3. 

[H Cleopatra (3) 

(c. 354-308 b.c.e.) 

Greek: Macedonia, Epirus, and Asia Minor 


Cleopatra was a daughter molded by a powerful 
mother. Lifetime allies, Cleopatra and her mother 
Olympias (i) fought to rule Macedonia. Born in 
354 b.c.e., the child of Olympias and Philip II 
(359-336 b.c.e.), Cleopatra was the sister of Alex- 
ander the Great. In 336, at 18 years of age, she 
married her uncle Alexander I, ruler of Milossia (c. 
342-330 b.c.e.) in Epirus. 

Her husband was 28 years old and a notable 
general. The marriage cemented the alliance 
between Epirus, the center of her mother's influ- 
ence, and Macedonia, ruled by her father, Philip 
II. Although her father was assassinated during the 

wedding celebration, her brother assumed control 
over Macedonia and the alliance held. Cleopatra 
remained in Epirus and gave birth to two children, 
Neoptolemus and Cadmeia. Six years later, after 
her husband's death in 330, she ruled in the name 
of her young children along with her mother. 

In 325, Olympias assumed the roles of guardian 
over Cleopatra's children and regent of Epirus 
while Cleopatra went to Macedonia. Alexander, 
already traveling in the East, had appointed the 
general Antipater ruler of Macedonia in his 
absence. Olympias and Cleopatra were hostile to 
Antipater, and Cleopatra sought to raise support 
against him. Alexander, however, only scoffed at 
Cleopatra's quest and is said to have remarked that 
their mother had gotten the best of the deal: Their 
mother ruled Epirus while Cleopatra was sent on a 
fool's errand, since Macedonia would never accept 
a woman ruler. 

The death of Alexander in 323 inaugurated a 
period of political turmoil. Three of Alexander's 
generals, Antipater, Craterus, and Perdiccas, vied 
for control of his empire, with Perdiccas in the 
dominant position and Antipater in control of 
Greece. Cleopatra could have chosen any one of 
them as a husband, although each would have 
objected to her marriage with any of the others. 

Instead, she pursued a different path. Pushed by 
Olympias, and with her eyes still on Macedonia, 
Cleopatra invited Leonnatus, a handsome Mace- 
donian general in Alexander's army who had dis- 
tinguished himself in Asia, to become her husband. 
Related to the ruling house and governor of Phry- 
gia in Asia Minor, Leonnatus modeled himself 
after Alexander. He was only too happy to accept 
Cleopatra's offer, recognizing it no doubt as a step- 
ping stone for both of them in pursuit of a larger 
sphere of power. He died in a battle with Greek 
insurgents before the marriage could take place. 

With Macedonia still the sought-after prize, 
and a score to settle with Antipater, Olympias and 
Cleopatra upset plans for a marriage between 
Nicaea (i), Antipater's daughter, and Perdiccas. 
Instead, Olympias organized a marriage between 
Perdiccas and Cleopatra. Cleopatra left for Sardis 
in Asia Minor in 322 b.c.e. 


Cleopatra (4) 

Perdiccas evidently feared the enmity of Anti- 
pater more than he desired the alliance with 
Cleopatra and Olympias. He decided to marry 
Nicaea. He also, however, secretly promised 
Cleopatra that he would later divorce Nicaea and 
marry her. News of the secret arrangement came to 
the attention of Antipater and caused a permanent 
breach between the two men. Cleopatra was kept 
under watch in Sardis to prevent her from marry- 
ing Perdiccas. Sources differ over whether or not 
Perdiccas married Nicaea before his assassination 
in 321. 

The drama of Perdiccas, and Antipater on the 
one side, and Olympias and Cleopatra on the 
other was watched by other generals of the late 
Alexander s army, all of whom sought their own 
spheres of power. Eumenes, a Greek general, sup- 
ported Cleopatra, but she prevented him from 
attacking Antipater to preserve favor with the 
Macedonian populace. Eumenes' death in 316 left 
her without allies. 

Tired of her semiconfinement in Sardis, Cleopa- 
tra planned to leave for Egypt in 308 to marry 
Ptolemy I Soter, one of the most successful of 
Alexanders successors. With orders from Antigo- 
nus, who controlled a large portion of Asia Minor, 
not to allow her to leave, the commander in Sardis 
arranged for a group of women to murder her. 
Antigonus quickly put the women to death to hide 
his involvement, and he gave Cleopatra a splendid 


Arrian. Successors 1.24, 40. 

Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 16.91.3; 18.23.1—3; 

Justin. Epitome 13.6. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Alexander 68.4. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Eumenes 3.8. 
Carney, Elizabeth D. "What's in a Name?" In Women's 

History and Ancient History, ed. by Sarah B. Pomeroy. 

Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991, 

p. 157. 
Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 

London: Methuen, 1951, p. 12. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, index. 

[a] Cleopatra (4) 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
self-made woman 

Cleopatra belonged to the group of freedmen and 
women who attained power under the emperor 
Claudius. She was said to be Claudius's favorite, a 
position she shared with Calpurnia (2), another 
freedwoman. Her access to the emperor made her 
a useful ally in the intrigues of imperial life. At the 
same time, access had a price, and Cleopatra 
expected to retire a rich woman. 

When the behavior of Valeria Messallina, the 
emperor's wife, appeared to open the way for a 
revival of power for the senatorial elite, the power- 
ful freedmen felt threatened. Narcissus, one of 
Claudius's two most important secretaries, paid 
Cleopatra to vouch for Calpurnia's report that 
Messallina and her lover Gaius Silius had under- 
gone a marriage ceremony. If this was true, it 
would mean at the least that Messallina had made 
the emperor appear a fool. Possibly, it was more, 
and the ceremony was the first move in a 

Silius and Messallina died in the wake of the 
affair, and Cleopatra was all the richer from it. 


Tacitus. Annales 9.30. 

Cleopatra (5) 

(first century c.e.) 
political client 

Roman: Rome 

Cleopatra was a friend and client of the wealthy, 
smart, and beautiful Poppaea Sabina (2), one of 
the many lovers, and later the second wife, of the 
emperor Nero. Cleopatra married a well-to-do 
Roman businessman, Gessius Florus, from Clazo- 
menae, a city on a small island off the southern 
shore of the Gulf of Smyrna. She used her relation- 
ship with Poppaea to secure from Nero an appoint- 
ment for her husband as procurator of Judaea in 
64 c.e. 

Poppaea, though thought to have Jewish sym- 
pathies, did the Jews no service: Cleopatra's hus- 
band, Florus, was a ruthless governor. 


Cleopatra II Philometor Soteira 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 20.252. 

Jones, A. H. M. The Herods of Judaea, Rev. ed. Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1967, p. 235 ff. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 635. 

[b] Cleopatra I (The Syrian) 

(c. 215-176 b.c.e.) 

Greek: Asia Minor and Egypt 


Cleopatra I, known as the Syrian, was the first 
woman of the Ptolemaic line to act as regent for 
her son and to mint coins in her own name. Born 
in Syria, the daughter of Laodice III and Antio- 
chus III, whose ancestor Seleucus I was a general 
under Alexander the Great, she was one of three 
daughters strategically married to insure her father s 

Her father had defeated Ptolemy IV Philopator 
at the battle of Panium in 200 b.c.e. and regained 
Coele-Syria, which he had previously lost to Ptol- 

Cleopatra I (The Syrian) 

(Date: 193 b.c.e.- 192 B.C.E. 1944.100.70712, Archives, 

American Numismatic Society) 

emy at the battle of Raphia in 217. With the 
Romans on the horizon, Antiochus sought peace 
on the Egyptian/Syrian border. The marriage of 
Cleopatra and the future Ptolemy V Epiphanes 
was arranged when they were still children. 

Cleopatra and Ptolemy married at Raphia in 
193. She was 22, and he was about 17. Antiochus 
gave her Coele-Syria as part of her dowry, no 
doubt to assuage Egyptian sensibilities. The mar- 
riage was successful. Cleopatra was the bolder, 
more vigorous, more ambitious, and more intelli- 
gent of the two, and they shared power. After her 
husband's death in 180 b.c.e., Cleopatra became 
sole regent for her young son, who was about six 
years old at the time. She proved to be an able 
ruler. Under her rule, Egypt remained peaceful. 
She discarded her husband's plan to campaign 
against her brother Seleucus IV in Syria and kept 
peace with both Syria and Rome. 

Her two sons later ruled Egypt as Ptolemy VI 
Philometor and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, and 
her daughter, Cleopatra II Philometor Soteira, 
became one of the greatest long-reigning woman 
rulers of Egypt. She died in 176 b.c.e. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 141-147. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984, p. 23. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 346. 

[b] Cleopatra II Philometor Soteira 
(c. 185?— 1 15 b.c.e.) Greek: Egypt 

Cleopatra II was one of the ablest rulers of Helle- 
nistic Egypt, ruling for 57 years. Born between 185 
and 180 b.c.e., the daughter of Cleopatra I (The 
Syrian) and Ptolemy V Epiphanes, she overcame 
extraordinary obstacles in her quest for power. 

After the death of her mother, who had been 
regent for her children, Cleopatra married her 


Cleopatra III 

younger brother Ptolemy VI Philometor in 175 or 
174. Two eunuchs from Coele-Syria, Eulaeus and 
Lenaeus, assumed the regency for the young house- 
hold. Their governance was a disaster, and they 
were defeated in a battle with Cleopatra's uncle, 
the Seleucid Antiochus IV. The defeated Eulaeus 
persuaded Cleopatra's brother/husband, the young 
Ptolemy VI, to withdraw with him to the island of 
Samothrace. Her youngest brother went to Alex- 
andria, where Cleopatra joined him. They were 
declared joint rulers by the populace, and he took 
the title of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II. 

Antiochus continued to meddle in Egyptian 
affairs in an effort to exercise control. He supported 
Ptolemy VI, who now resided in Memphis, and 
launched an attack on Cleopatra and Ptolemy VIII 
in Alexandria. Cleopatra and Ptolemy VIII sent 
envoys to Rome to plead for Roman intervention. 
In the meantime, Ptolemy VI, fearful of Antiochus's 
intentions, contacted Cleopatra and his brother to 
arrange a settlement between them. Cleopatra, the 
eldest of the three, brokered a peace. 

Cleopatra ruled along with her two brothers 
from 170 to 164 b.c.e., after the Romans forced 
Antiochus to withdraw to Syria. Cleopatra and 
Ptolemy VI were supported by the powerful Jewish 
community of Alexandria and put their army 
under the control of two Jewish generals. A 
resumption of the quarrel between the brothers, 
resulted in a victory for Ptolemy VI. Cleopatra and 
he ruled jointly from 164 onward, while Ptolemy 
VIII withdrew from Egypt to Cyrene. 

Cleopatra had four children with Ptolemy VI, 
one of whom, Ptolemy Eupator, ruled jointly with 
his father for a brief time. Another became Ptol- 
emy VII Neos Philapator and became joint ruler 
with his father in 145 and sole ruler after his father 
died in battle in the same year. There were also two 
daughters, Cleopatra III and Cleopatra Thea. 

After the death of Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy VIII 
returned to Alexandria from Cyrene, murdered the 
17-year-old Ptolemy VII, and bowed to the 
demands of the Alexandrians to marry his sister 
Cleopatra. Cleopatra III also married Ptolemy 
VIII, her uncle and her mother's second husband, 
in 142, while her mother was still his wife. Furious 

at this slight, Cleopatra bided her time for 10 
years. Then in 132, with the support of the Jews, 
she organized a revolt in Alexandria, and in 130 
Ptolemy VIII fled to Cyprus. 

Cleopatra III and her children went with Ptol- 
emy. Cleopatra IPs four-year-old son with Ptolemy 
VIII was also taken. Ptolemy murdered the boy 
and sent pieces of his body packed in a hamper as 
a birthday present to Cleopatra in Alexandria. A 
year later, after Ptolemy VII returned to Egypt 
with Cleopatra III and captured Alexandria, 
Cleopatra fled to Antioch, bringing with her vast 
wealth to secure support from her former son-in- 
law, Demetrius II. Demetrius had been married to 
her daughter Cleopatra Thea. He rose to her 
defense but was killed in battle. 

Cleopatra eventually returned to Alexandria 
and reconciled with her brother/husband to reign 
peacefully with him and with her daughter Cleopa- 
tra III. Reforms were issued in the names of the 
three rulers. Among these were a prohibition 
against imprisonment without trial, a decrease in 
taxes, improved judicial proceedings, and reforms 
in housing and ownership of land. 

Cleopatra died in 115 b.c.e., shortly after her 
husband's death. She was more than 70 years old. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 33.13.1; 34.14.1. 

Livy. From the Founding of the City 44.19.6—14; 

Polybius. Histories 28.1, 20-21. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, 1951, p. 222. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 346-347. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984. 

Cleopatra III 

(c. 165?-101 B.C.E.) 

Greek: Egypt 

Cleopatra III let no one stand in the way of her 
quest for power. Her life was shaped by struggles 


Cleopatra III 

with her mother and her children to become the 
dominant ruler of Egypt. Enormously wealthy, she 
was the daughter of Cleopatra II Philometor 
Soteira and her husband/brother, Ptolemy VI 
Philometor. Born between 165 and 160 b.c.e. in 
142, she became the wife of her uncle, Ptolemy 
VIII Euergetes II, who was simultaneously her 
mother's second husband. She was the sister of 
Cleopatra Thea. 

After 10 years of marriage marked by discord 
between the women, Cleopatra II led a successful 
revolt in 132, and Ptolemy VIII was forced to flee 
Alexandria. Cleopatra III supported her husband 
and fled with him to Cyprus accompanied by her 
five children: Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyrus Ptol- 
emy Alexander, Cleopatra Tryphaena, Cleopa- 
tra IV, and Cleopatra V Selene. They also 
brought to Cyprus Ptolemy VIII's four-year-old 
son from his marriage with Cleopatra II. The boy 
was murdered, and parts of the body were sent to 
the boy's mother in Alexandria. 

In 129 Ptolemy VIII reconquered Alexandria, 
and eventually both Cleopatras reconciled. Over 
the next 13 years, mother and daughter ruled 
together with their joint husband. In the name of 
the three rulers there were reforms in the courts, in 
debt, in land holdings, and in taxes. At his death in 
116, Ptolemy VIII left Cleopatra III, the younger 
of the two women, in control of Egypt with the 
right to choose either one of her sons as coruler. 
Her mother died soon after, and left her the 
unchallenged ruler. 

She was forced by the populace in 1 16 to name 
her son Ptolemy IX Soter II as coruler instead of 
the younger Ptolemy Alexander, whom she found 
more pliable. She sent her younger son to Cyprus 
but asserted her position by presenting her name 
and image before that of her older son on official 
documents and other iconography. She also made 
his life miserable. 

Ptolemy IX had married his sister, Cleopatra IV, 
whom he dearly loved. Cleopatra found that this 
daughter had a mind of her own and was not to be 
dominated. In a short time, Cleopatra succeeded 
in securing her son's divorce and a new marriage to 
his younger sister, Cleopatra V Selene, whom she 

more easily controlled. In 110, Cleopatra also 
secured the agreement of Ptolemy IX to accept her 
younger son, Ptolemy X Alexander I, as his joint 
ruler. Soon, however, they quarreled, and Ptolemy 
Alexander returned to Cyprus. 

Ptolemy IX sought to counter his mother's 
power by siding against the Jews, who were the 
second most privileged group in Alexandria after 
the Greeks and were her supporters. He received a 
request from Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, his cousin 
and the ruler of Antioch, for help in fighting 
against the forces of John Hyrcanus, the Jewish 
high priest, who was attacking the Greeks in 
Samaria. Ptolemy sent 6,000 troops without tell- 
ing his mother. 

In 108, Cleopatra accused Ptolemy IX of seek- 
ing to poison her. She incited a mob and Ptolemy 
IX was driven into exile. She recalled her younger 
son, Ptolemy X, from Cyprus as her coruler and 
sent an army to capture Ptolemy IX. The troops, 
with the exception of the Jews, revolted, and Ptol- 
emy IX became ruler of Cyprus. Cleopatra put the 
commander of the troops to death. 

Cleopatra and Ptolemy X quarreled. In 102 
b.c.e. her older son, Ptolemy IX, invaded Pales- 
tine from his base in Cyprus, captured Judaea, 
and advanced toward Egypt. Cleopatra collected 
her grandchildren along with her will and a large 
amount of treasure, which she deposited in the 
temple of Aesculapius on Cos, an island off the 
coast of southern Asia Minor. She then led an 
army into Palestine where she halted Ptolemy's 
advance. She was only dissuaded from trying to 
regain Coele-Syria by her Jewish advisers, who 
threatened to withdraw their support if she cap- 
tured Alexander Jannaeus, the brother of John 
Hyrcanus, who controlled the area. Instead, she 
signed a treaty of alliance and mutual aid with 

Cleopatra was worshiped as Isis, the great 
mother of the gods, and cults were established in 
her honor. She provided funds for an expedition 
by Eudoxus of Cyzicenus to India for a shipment 
of precious stones and perfumes. She died at about 
60 years old, before Eudoxus s return in 101. She 
may have been murdered, perhaps by Ptolemy X. 


Cleopatra IV 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaic ae (Jewish Antiquities) 13.285, 
287, 328, 331, 348-55. 

Livy. From the Founding of the City 14.67. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 
London: Methuen, 1951, pp. 222-223. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 347. 

Cleopatra IV 

(second century b.c.e. 
Greek: Egypt and Syr 
insurgent leader 


Cleopatra IV threatened the power of her mother 
in Egypt and her sister in Syria. She was the daugh- 
ter of Cleopatra III. Her father, Ptolemy VIII 
Euergetes II, was also her great-uncle. She married 
her brother, Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyrus, who 
became coruler with her mother after her fathers 
death in 316 b.c.e. 

Her mother sought to exercise control over 
Ptolemy IX, who was her oldest son. In the con- 
flict between mother and wife, her husband reluc- 
tantly sided with his mother and agreed to reject 
Cleopatra in favor of marriage with a younger sis- 
ter, Cleopatra V Selene, who was more amenable 
to his mothers influence. Cleopatra left Egypt for 
Cyprus, where another brother, Ptolemy Alexan- 
der, ruled. 

Like many of the Cleopatras, Cleopatra IV had 
enormous wealth. In Cyprus she raised an army 
and took it to Syria. At this time the half brothers 
Antiochus IX Cyzicenus and Antiochus VIII Gry- 
pus were waging war against each other. Both were 
first cousins of Cleopatra IV through their mother, 
Cleopatra Thea, who was the sister of Cleopatra 
III. Grypus was married to another of Cleopatras 
own sisters, Cleopatra Tryphaena. The other half 
brother was available. 

In Antioch, Cleopatra offered her support to 
Cyzicenus and married him. Grypus captured 
Antioch and Cleopatra in 1 12 b.c.e. He might not 
have murdered Cleopatra, but her sister, fearing 


Cleopatra would seduce her husband, had Cleopa- 
tra killed even though she had sought santuary in 
the temple of Artemis. Later, Cleopatras husband 
Cyzicenus recaptured Antioch. He had his sister- 
in-law Cleopatra Tryphaena killed to appease the 
spirit of his murdered wife. 


Justin. Epitome 39.3. 

Downey, Glanville. A History of Antioch in Syria from Seleu- 

cus to the Arab Conquest. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton 

University Press, 1961, p. 129. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985. 

[b] CleopatraV Selene 

(c. 131/130-69 b.c.e.) 
Greek: Egypt and Syria 
political player 

Cleopatra V Selene engaged in a series of matrimo- 
nial alliances to secure a sphere of power in the poli- 
tics of Egypt and Syria. She was the youngest 
daughter of Cleopatra III and Ptolemy VIII Euer- 
getes II, who was also her great-uncle. In 116 b.c.e., 
when she was about 14 or 15 years old, her mother 
arranged her first marriage with her brother Ptolemy 
IX Soter II Lathyrus, in the belief that she would be 
more malleable to her mothers machinations than 
his previous wife, her older sister Cleopatra IV 

In 108, with the support of the Jews of Alexan- 
dria, her mother incited a successful revolt to drive 
Ptolemy IX Soter II from Egypt. Cleopatra 
remained in Alexandria with her mother. Her 
deposed husband assembled an army in Cyprus, 
where he had fled. He defeated the Jewish army in 
Syria and conquered Judaea. Sometime during this 
period Cleopatra, who was still in Alexandria, 
divorced Ptolemy IX. Threatened by his advancing 
army, she left Alexandria for Syria. With her moth- 
er's support, she brought troops with her and car- 
ried a large dowry of treasure to Antiochus VIII 
Grypus in Antioch. 

Grypus was kin by a former marriage and was a 
partner who could offer Cleopatra and her mother 
an alternative base of power in their war against 
Ptolemy. At the time, there was almost continuous 

Cleopatra VII 

warfare for control over the Seleucid Empire 
between two half brothers, Antiochus VIII Grypus 
and Antiochus IX Cyzicenus. Cyzicenus had been 
married to Cleopatra IV. She had been murdered 
by order of her sister Cleopatra Tryphaena, who 
was Grypus's wife. To avenge the murder of Cleopa- 
tra IV, Cyzicenus murdered Cleopatra Tryphaena. 

Cleopatra V married Grypus, but the union was 
short-lived. He was murdered in 96 b.c.e. by his 
leading general, Heracleon of Beroea, during an 
attempted coup. Meanwhile in Egypt, Cleopatra's 
mother was murdered, possibly by one of her sons. 
Cleopatra became a free agent, able to choose her 
allies. She married Cyzicenus, her husband's half- 
brother and bitterest enemy, who occupied Antioch 
soon after her husband's death. 

She was not his wife for long either. Cyzicenus 
died in battle along with the eldest son of Grypus in 
about 95 or 94. Antiochus X Eusebes, the son of 
Cyzicenus, staked his claim for power. He con- 
quered Antioch and reigned from 94 to 92. Cleopa- 
tra married Eusebes, once more negotiating her 
enormous wealth for political power. Although 
Eusebes died fighting in 92, Cleopatra survived. She 
moved to Ptolemais in Phoenicia and lived in great 
luxury with her children for nearly two decades. 

In 75, she sent her two sons by Eusebes to 
Rome where they contested the legitimacy of Ptol- 
emy XII Neos Dionysus (Auletes), son of Ptolemy 
IX. The Romans refused to support their claim. 
Cleopatra also sought to place her son, Antiochus 
Asiaticus, in power in Syria. Tigranes I the Great of 
Armenia, who controlled Syria, campaigned 
against her in Phoenicia. In 69 she was captured in 
Ptolemais by Tigranes, who brought her to Seleu- 
ceia on the Euphrates and had her killed. Her son 
ruled over Syria from 69 to 68 b.c.e. after Tigranes 
withdrew from Antioch. 


Appian. Syrian Wars 49.69. 

Cicero. In Verrum 4.27. 

Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 13.6.5; 

365, 367, 370-371. 
Strabo. Geography 16.7, 49. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, index. 

[b] Cleopatra VI Tryphaena 

(?-57 b.c.e.) Greek: Egypt 

Cleopatra VI Tryphaena was the daughter of Ptol- 
emy IX Soter II Lathyrus. Her mother was one of 
his lovers. Cleopatra married her half-brother Ptol- 
emy XII Neos Dionysus (Auletes) in 80 or 79. A 
weak man, Ptolemy XII's rule was challenged by 
Cleopatra V Selene, who was living in Ptolemais 
and looking to settle her sons by Antiochus X 

Cleopatra was very young when she married, 
and her brother/husband was only about 1 5 when 
be became ruler. Much of his time and money was 
spent bribing Romans to support his claims to the 
throne. The heavy taxes levied to pay for these 
bribes left him highly unpopular. Rome finally rec- 
ognized his rule in 59 b.c.e., after Julius Caesar, 
who was consul in that year, received a large settle- 
ment. When the Alexandrians threatened revolt, 
Ptolemy XII went to Rome to seek support. 
Cleopatra shared power with Berenice IV Cleopa- 
tra in Egypt for about a year until she died in 57. 

Cleopatra may have been the mother of Arsinoe 
Auletes and the most famous Cleopatra, Cleopa- 
tra VII. She may also have been the mother of sis- 
ter of Berenice IV Cleopatra. In addition, she had 
two sons, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 39.12. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, index. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 

Schocken, 1984, p. 24. 
Skeat, Theodore Cressy. The Reigns of the Ptolemies. Munich: 

Beck, 1969, p. 35. 

[a] CleopatraVII 
(c. 69-30 b.c.e.) 

Greek: Egypt, Asia Minor, and Italy 

Cleopatra VII is one of the most famous women of 
history, the subject of legend and literature. A pro- 
tagonist in the politics and wars that marked the 
end of the Roman republic and an independent 


Cleopatra VII 

Egypt, she was courageous, intelligent, arrogant, 
clever, and charming. She had a facility for lan- 
guages and was possibly the only Ptolemaic ruler 
who spoke fluent Egyptian. She was also extremely 
rich. The last in the long line of Ptolemaic rulers, 
many of whom were powerful women, she was 
born in 69 b.c.e. and ruled Egypt from 51 to 30. 
Ambitious for Egypt, she used Julius Caesar and 
Mark Antony to solidify her rule and extend her 
empire. In turn, she offered them her treasury. She 
exhibited some of the characteristics of Alexander 
the Great, and had Antony followed her advice, 
together they might well have ruled a world 

Cleopatra was the daughter of Ptolemy XII 
Neos Dionysus (Auletes). Her mother's identity 
has remained uncertain. The most likely candidate 
is Cleopatra VI Tryphaena, who married Auletes 
in 80 or 79 b.c.e. Possibly, she was the daughter of 
one of Auletes' lovers. However, none of the ancient 
sources, which were sometimes quite hostile toward 
Cleopatra, challenged her legitimate right to rule 

Cleopatra was 14 in 55 b.c.e. when her father 
returned to power in Egypt with the support of 

Rome. Ptolemy XII was a weak man who had 
spent several years and a great deal of money brib- 
ing Romans to support him over the objections of 
the Alexandrians. He had left Egypt for Rome in 
58. In his absence, the Alexandrians recognized as 
joint rulers his wife Cleopatra VI Tryphaena and 
Berenice IV Cleopatra, who was either the aunt, 
sister, or stepsister of Cleopatra. Cleopatra VI died 
a year later. Berenice IV Cleopatra ruled alone 
until Auletes returned and murdered her. 

Before her father died in 51, he named the 17- 
year-old Cleopatra and her brother, Ptolemy XIII, 
joint rulers of Egypt. Cleopatra was seven years 
older than her brother; she married him within the 
year. The young rulers were surrounded by three 
men who expected to exercise power: Prothinus, a 
court eunuch; Theodolltus, a Greek from Chios 
who was Ptolemy's tutor; and Archillas, who com- 
manded the army in Alexandria. Conflict was not 
slow in coming. From the beginning, Cleopatra 
allied herself with the Romans. In 49 she supplied 
Gnaeus Pompey, the son of the republican general 
Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the Great), with 60 
ships in addition to money and supplies of corn. 
The advisers, fearful that she might achieve an 

Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony 

(Date: 36 B.C.E. 1977.158.621, Archives, American Numismatic Society) 


Cleopatra VII 

independent basis of power supported by the 
Romans, alleged that she sought to rule alone. 

With the help of an Alexandrian mob, Cleopatra 
was expelled from the city in 48 b.c.e. Undeterred, 
she raised a mercenary army and returned to fight 
her brother. In 48, Julius Caesar arrived in Egypt in 
pursuit of Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the Great) 
and found the armies of Cleopatra and her brother 
arrayed against each other. Caesar sent a message to 
Cleopatra encamped in Pelusium. To escape assassi- 
nation, Cleopatra wrapped herself in bedclothes and 
used a small boat to smuggle herself into Alexandria 
to meet Caesar. She secured his support. 

In an effort to appease the Alexandrians, who 
were affronted by the Romans marching through 
the city, and to calm conflict between Cleopatra 
and her brother, Caesar read to an assembled group 
of Alexandrians a copy of Auletes' will that had 
been left in his care. He affirmed Auletes' instruc- 
tions and made Cleopatra and her brother corulers 
of Egypt under the protection of Rome. 

In a further effort to assure peace within the rul- 
ing clique in Alexandria, Caesar proposed that 
Cleopatra's younger sister, Arsinoe Auletes, and 
their youngest brother, Ptolemy XIV, leave Egypt 
and become joint rulers of Cyprus. Arsinoe Auletes, 
however, jealous of Cleopatra, fled to Alexandria 
and joined up with the Egyptian army, which 
declared her ruler. She quarreled with the general 
Archillas, had him murdered, and assumed control 
over the army. The mercenary army had no liking 
for a woman commander and welcomed the young 
Ptolemy XIII, who came from Alexandria under a 
ruse of bringing the army to Caesar's side. War fol- 
lowed. In 47 Caesar defeated the army and cap- 
tured Arsinoe, whom he brought to Rome. Ptolemy 
drowned in the Nile trying to escape. 

By now Caesar had become Cleopatra's lover, 
and she was pregnant with his child. Born in June 
47, the child was named Ptolemy Caesar. He 
became known as Caesarion. Cleopatra married her 
younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, who was about 12 
years old at the time, and Caesar returned to Rome 
leaving Alexandria quiet and Cleopatra in power, 
supported by three Roman legions. In 46 Cleopatra 
joined Caesar in Rome along with her young son 

and her husband, Ptolemy XIV She lived in one of 
Caesar's houses and held court. After his assassina- 
tion in 44, she returned to Egypt. Shortly thereaf- 
ter, she had her husband poisoned and named her 
son, the three-year-old Caesarion, joint ruler. 

During the ensuing Roman civil war, Cleopatra 
sided with the Caesarians. She supplied Publius 
Cornelius Dolabella with four legions and excused 
herself from helping his opponent Gaius Cassius 
Longinus the Tyrannicide on the grounds that 
there was famine in Egypt. After the defeat of Dol- 
abella, she tried to sail with her fleet to join Mark 
Antony and Octavian, but a storm destroyed many 
of her ships. An illness prevented her from sailing 
again, and the victory of the Caesarians made fur- 
ther aid unnecessary. 

In 4 1 Cleopatra was summoned by Antony to 
Tarsus. Antony's mission was to consolidate power 
and raise revenues to pay for the war. Cleopatra 
convinced him that she had supported the Caesari- 
ans, probably provided him with immediate mate- 
rial aid, and successfully seduced him. Antony spent 
the winter of 41—40 with her in Egypt. At her 
request, he arranged for the murder of her sister 
Arsinoe Auletes, who was in Ephesus and who 
Cleopatra felt might be a future threat. In the 
spring of 40, Antony left Egypt to return to Rome. 

Between 40 and 37 b.c.e., Cleopatra remained in 
Egypt. In 37 Antony was again in the East, and he 
summoned Cleopatra to meet him in Antioch where 
they formed an alliance. She agreed to provide him 
with aid and in return received control over Coele- 
Syria, Cyprus, and a part of Cilicia. Antony also 
acknowledged that he was the father of their twins, 
Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios. 

In 35 OcTAViA (2), who had married Antony in 
40 to seal the pact of Brundisium and who under 
Roman law was still his wife, brought Antony rein- 
forcements from her brother, Octavian. She came 
with far fewer troops than Antony had expected 
and Octavian had promised. Antony told her to 
stop at Athens: The alliance with Cleopatra pro- 
vided for his needs, and Cleopatra had no interest 
in Octavia's presence. With Cleopatra's resources, 
Antony mounted a successful eastern campaign 
against the Armenians in 34. Afterward, Antony 


Cleopatra Selene 

and Cleopatra divided power. She and Caesarion 
continued to be corulers of Egypt, Cyprus, Libya, 
and Coele-Syria. Alexander Helios was given Arme- 
nia, Media, and Parthia, and little Ptolemy Philadel- 
phus, their other son, was named ruler of Phoenicia, 
Syria and Cilicia. Coins were struck with Antony on 
one side and Cleopatra on the other. 

Cleopatra had succeeded. She was joint ruler 
with the most powerful Roman in the East and had 
an empire that extended well beyond her patri- 
mony of Egypt. She crowned her success with mar- 
riage to Antony after he divorced Octavia in 32. 

Octavian declared war against Cleopatra. He 
could not leave Antony and Cleopatra in control 
of the East, the richer and more populous part of 
the ancient Greco-Roman world. Octavian needed 
the resources of the East and the corn of Egypt to 
feed Rome. However, Octavian feared declaring 
war directly against Antony who remained popular 
among Romans, especially those in the army. 
Cleopatra wanted Antony to focus on the East, but 
she reluctantly supplied Antony with money, men, 
and ships to fight Octavian. Antony adopted a 
two-part plan in which he would proceed against 
Octavian and, only if that failed, would he fall 
back on extending his rule in the East. 

Romans supporting Antony met with him and 
Cleopatra at Ephesus. They were clear: They wanted 
Cleopatra to return to Egypt. They adamantly 
opposed recognizing Caesarion as the legitimate son 
of Caesar and Cleopatra and as a possible coruler of 
Rome. However, Cleopatra was furnishing 200 of 
the 800 ships of the fleet as well as 2,000 talents. 
She refused to go back to Egypt. She claimed that 
the Egyptians would be insulted and that her sol- 
diers would not fight. Perhaps she also feared that 
Antony might be persuaded to abandon her if she 
was not physically present. Antony stood by Cleopa- 
tra, much to the disgust of his Roman army. 

In the battle of Actium in 31 b.c.e., Antonys 
Roman troops wanted the navy to attack Octavi- 
an's ships. If they won, Octavian would be forced 
to send his army into battle. If Octavians fleet 
won, the army under Antony would withdraw to 
the interior, forcing Octavian to follow. Cleopatra's 
ships were stationed in the rear. Antony put trea- 

sure aboard fast ships that were also stationed in 
the rear. This aroused suspicion among the troops, 
and some of Antonys fleet deserted him at the 
beginning of the battle. Cleopatra ordered her 
ships back to Egypt, and Antony, probably think- 
ing that his army might desert him, abandoned the 
fight, boarded a fast ship, and followed her. The 
rest of his army surrendered. Antony committed 
suicide before Octavian arrived in Egypt. 

On August 10, 30 b.c.e., Cleopatra killed her- 
self by poison from an asp rather than face being 
paraded as a captive in Octavians triumph. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 4.61—63, 
82; 5.8-9. 

Dio Cassius. Roman History 42.35 ff; 49.41. 

Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 15.4.1. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Antonius 25-29; 
30; 53-86. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Caesar Ad. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pompeius 78. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Caesar 52. 

Burnstein, Stanley M. The Reign of Cleopatra. Westport, 
Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004, passim. 

Chauveau, Michel. Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth. Translated 
from the French by Lorton. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Uni- 
versity Press, 2002. 

Jones, Prudence. Cleopatra: A Sourcebook. Norman: Uni- 
versity of Oklahoma Press, 2006. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 347. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, pp. 187-188. 

. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: Schocken, 

1984, index. 

Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1963, index. 

[b] Cleopatra Selene 

(40 B.C.E.-? C.E.) 

Greek: Egypt, Italy and Mauritania 

Cleopatra Selene ruled the Roman client king- 
dom of Mauritania with her husband, Juba. She 


Cleopatra Thea 

and her twin, Alexander Helios, were born in 40 
b.c.e. to Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. After 
the battle of Actium and the death of her parents 
when she was about 1 1 years old, she walked with 
her brother in Octavian's triumph. Alexander 
died shortly thereafter, and Octavia (2), the ex- 
wife of Mark Antony, raised Cleopatra in her own 

In 20 b.c.e., Octavian, now Augustus, arranged 
a marriage between Cleopatra Selene and Juba of 
Mauritania. Juba had been paraded in a triumph 
of Julius Caesar in 46 b.c.e. and, like his new wife, 
had been brought up since childhood in Rome. 
Augustus was fond of him and, before becoming 
emperor, had granted him Roman citizenship and 
had taken him on some of his campaigns. 

Juba was an extraordinarily cultured man who 
wrote many books, all now lost. He and Cleopa- 
tra brought Roman and Greek culture to Mauri- 
tania. They had a son named Ptolemy who 
succeeded his father as king and ruled until 40 c. 
e. He was killed on orders of the emperor Gaius 
Caligula, who wanted his wealth. They also had a 
daughter, Drusilla (i), who married Marcus 
Antonius Felix, a freedman of the younger Anto- 
nia, the mother of the emperor Claudius. As 
procurator of Judaea, Felix was the judge at the 
trial of St. Paul. 

Cleopatra issued coins in her own name with 
Greek inscriptions. Her husbands coins were in 
Latin. She was the last Cleopatra, and her son was 
the last royal Ptolemy. It is not known when she 
died, but the iconography of her coins suggests she 
might have been alive as late as 1 1 c.e. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 13.420. 

Josephus. Bellum Judaicum (Jewish Wars) 1.116. 

Tacitus. Historiae 5.9. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, index. 

Grant, Michael. The Jews in the Roman World. New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973, p. 159. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 347. 

Roller, Duane W. The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: 
Royal Scholarship on Rome's African Frontier. New York: 
Routledge, 2003. 

[b] Cleopatra Thea 

(second century b.c.e.) Greek: Egypt and Syria 

Cleopatra Thea was used by her father to enhance 
his power in Syria and then took control of her 
own destiny and sought to find an able man to rule 
the Seleucid Empire. She was the daughter of 
Cleopatra II Philometor Soteira. Her father 
was her mother's brother and husband Ptolemy VI 

In 162 b.c.e., Demetrius I Soter gained control 
over Syria, but he soon became unpopular. Alexan- 
der Balas, an impostor who bore a remarkable 
resemblance to Antiochus IV, the former ruler of 
Syria, was put forward as the rightful heir. In 
exchange for influence and possibly even territory, 
Ptolemy VI arranged for Alexanders marriage with 
Cleopatra Thea. Alexander Balas defeated Deme- 
trius with support from Egypt, Pergamum, and the 
Jews. He and Cleopatra Thea had a son, Antiochus. 

Alexander proved to be an incompetent ruler 
who immersed himself in luxurious living and 
debauchery. In 147, Demetrius II, the eldest son of 
the defeated Demetrius I, led an army of merce- 
naries from Crete into Syria. At this point, Ptol- 
emy VI quarreled with Alexander and recalled his 
daughter. Cleopatra Thea then married Demetrius 
II, who was several years her junior. 

Alexander was defeated. Forced to flee, he took 
his and Cleopatra Theas son, whom he left with 
desert chiefs. Ptolemy persuaded the people of 
Antioch to recognize Demetrius as ruler. Alexan- 
der returned to fight Demetrius. Alexander and 
Ptolemy VI died in battle. 

The young Demetrius was another inept ruler. 
He too became highly unpopular, blamed for the 
persecution of Alexander Balas s supporters and the 
cruelty of his mercenary troops. Diodotus, the gov- 
ernor of Syria, gained possession of Cleopatra Theas 
son, drove Demetrius from Antioch and proclaimed 
little Antiochus ruler. However, Diodotus had the 


Cleopatra Thea 

Cleopatra Thea and her son Antiochus VIII Grypus 

(Date: 125 B.C.E.-I2I B.C.E. 1977.158.705, Archives, 

American Numismatic Society) 

boy murdered a year or two later since Antiochus 
was a threat to his power. 

Cleopatra Thea, who had two sons with Deme- 
trius, Seleucus V and Antiochus Grypus, accompa- 
nied her inept husband to Seleuceia-in-Pieria, a 
port city in Syria, after his defeat by Diodotus. In 
139, her husband was captured by Mithradates 
and the Parthians. Fearing Demetrius lost and that 
Diodotus (now renamed Tryphon) might secure 
his position, she invited her brother-in-law, Antio- 
chus VII Sidetes from Rhodes, to Sleuceia-in-Pie- 
ria to marry her and become ruler. 

Sidetes accepted Cleopatra Thea's offer, was wel- 
comed by the people, and proved to be an able 
ruler. In 138 he defeated Tryphon, who committed 
suicide. The couple returned in triumph to Antioch 
and order was restored to the rest of the country. 
Sidetes also reconquered Judaea. Cleopatra Thea 
gave birth to a son, Antiochus Cyzicenus. 

Over the next several years nothing is known 
about Cleopatra Thea. Her husband, however, 
campaigned against the Parthians and among them 
discovered his brother Demetrius II alive. He had 
become a favorite of Mithradetes, who had 

betrothed him to his daughter Rhodogune. Sidetes 
secured Demetrius's freedom before he died in bat- 
tle in 129. Demetrius II returned to reign in Syria. 
It was at this time that Cleopatra Thea's mother 
Cleopatra II arrived in Antioch. She sought sup- 
port from Demetrius II in her struggle with her 
husband/brother Ptolemy VIII Euergetes, who was 
also Cleopatra Thea's uncle. Cleopatra Thea hated 
Demetrius and certainly did not welcome her 
mother. Her mother, Cleopatra II, however, 
brought with her enough wealth to secure coopera- 
tion from Demetrius, who set out with an army to 
fight for her cause. The people of Antioch revolted 
as soon as he left. 

Taking advantage of the situation in Antioch, 
and in revenge against Cleopatra II, Ptolemy VIII 
declared an impostor, Alexander Zebinas, ruler of 
Antioch in 128. Zebinas defeated Demetrius II. 
Demetrius fled to Ptolemais and sought refuge 
with Cleopatra Thea. She refused to receive him. 
She then arranged for his murder by the governor 
of Tyre. She also murdered their son Seleucus V 

Cleopatra Thea and her first husband, 
Alexander I Balas 

(Date: I50B.C.E.-I45 B.C.E. 1959.124.2, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 



lest he aspire to rule. Given the climate of the 
times, she might have been seeking to avert her 
death at Demetrius's hands, as he would no doubt 
have sought to avenge the earlier death of his 
father, Demetrius I. 

Ptolemy VIII quarreled with Alexander Zebinas 
and switched his support to Cleopatra Thea, who 
became joint ruler of Syria with her son Antiochus 
VIII Grypus in 125. Cleopatra Thea issued silver 
coins with her head, name, and titles. She was the 
first Hellenistic woman ruler to strike coins in her 
own name. On later coins her head appeared with 
that of Grypus; her head, however, was in front of 
her son's. 

In 123, she believed that she faced a final chal- 
lenge to her position. Cleopatra Tryphaena, the 
daughter of Ptolemy VIII, and Grypus were 
betrothed. She was said to have offered her son a 
drink containing poison after he came in from a 
hunt. He became suspicious and offered her the 
drink instead. She refused. Afraid of her machina- 
tions, Grypus had her killed in 121 or 120 b.c.e. 

Without her powerful presence neither of her 
sons, Grypus nor Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, were 
able to rule successfully. They waged war against 
each other, killed each other's wife, and succeeded 
in destroying the power of the Seleucids. 


Appian. Syrian Wars 67-69. 

Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 28; 32.9c; 33. 

Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 13.80— 

82, 109-110, 137,221-222. 
Justin. Epitome 39.2. 
Livy. From the Founding of the City 60. 
Downey, Glanville. A History ofAntioch in Syria from Seleu- 

cus to the Arab Conquest. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton 

University Press, 1961, pp. 119-129. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, index. 

[b] Cleopatra Tryphaena 

(second century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Egypt and Asia Minor 
military leader 

Cleopatra Tryphaena murdered her sister Cleopatra 
IV and was, in turn, murdered by her sister's hus- 

band. She was the daughter of Cleopatra III. Her 
father, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, was also her uncle. 
The viciousness of her relationship with her sister 
reflected their mother's earlier struggle for power. 

In 125 b.c.e., her father had installed her aunt 
Cleopatra Thea as joint ruler of Syria with one of 
her aunt's sons, Antiochus VIII Grypus. Two years 
later, in 123, he arranged a marriage between 
Cleopatra Tryphaena and Grypus. Cleopatra Thea 
perceived the advent of another woman as a threat 
to her power. She sought to poison her son. He had 
her murdered in 121 or 120, and the marriage went 
forward. Cleopatra Tryphaena moved to Antioch. 

Her father died in 116, and her mother forced 
an end to the marriage between Cleopatra Try- 
phaena's sister Cleopatra IV and her brother Ptol- 
emy IX Soter II Lathyrus. Her sister went to 
Cyprus, where their mother had previously placed 
another brother in charge. There she raised a mer- 
cenary army, which she led to Antioch and offered 
to Grypus's half-brother, Antiochus IX Cyzicenus. 
She also married him. She was now her sister 
Cleopatra Tryphaena's enemy. 

Grypus drove Cyzenicus out ofAntioch in 1 12 
and captured Cleopatra IV Cleopatra Tryphaena 
could not have had any illusions about her sister or 
what she could buy with her wealth. She feared 
that her husband would become her sister's pawn. 
She insisted that Cleopatra IV be killed. 

Cyzicenus later recaptured Antioch and killed 
Cleopatra Tryphaena to appease the spirit of his 
murdered wife. 


Justin. Epitome 39.3. 

Downey, Glanville. A History ofAntioch in Syria fom Seleu- 

cus to the Arab Conquest. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton 

University Press, 1961, pp. 127-128. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, index. 

[a] Cleora 

(fifth-fourth century b.c.e.) Greek: Sparta 
wife of ruler 

Cleora was the wife of Agesilaus II of Sparta, who 
came to power in 399 b.c.e. She had two daughters, 



Eupolia and Proanga, and a son, Archidamus, who 
succeeded his father in 360 b.c.e. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelize (Parallel Lives): Agesilaus 19.5- 

Hj Clodia(l) 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political wife 

Clodia was the eldest of three sisters, all named 
Clodia, and the only one of them to lead a life free 
of notoriety. Her mother was from the powerful 
and aristocratic Metelli clan, and her father was 
Appius Claudius Pulcher, consul in 79 b.c.e. When 
Clodia married Quintus Marcus Rex, consul in 
68, her father was still alive and the family intact. 
However, he died soon after and left debts that far 
outweighed assets. Even though her oldest brother 
assumed family responsibility and worked to 
restore their fortunes, it was a financial disaster for 
her two sisters, Clodia (2) and Clodia (3), and 
transformed their lives. 


Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 72. 

Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1963, pp. 20, 23. 

Clodia (2) 

(95 B.C.E.-?) 


Roman: Italy 

Clodia was well born, smart, and educated. She 
lived her life with scant regard for tradition amid 
the rich, famous, and notorious in the last decades 
of the republic. One of six children, she was born 
in 95 b.c.e. into the aristocratic Metelli clan. Her 
mother's name is unknown. Her father was Appius 
Claudius Pulcher, consul in 79 b.c.e. He died in 
76, leaving the family in poverty. Her eldest 
brother, Appius Claudius Pulcher, sought to restore 
the family's fortunes and was regarded as corrupt 
even in an age known for its corruption. Publius 
Clodius Pulcher, her younger brother, became tri- 

bune, curried popular favor, and enforced populist 
laws with armed mobs. 

With little more than her beauty and her brains, 
Clodia married her first cousin Quintus Metellus 
Celler by 62 b.c.e. and was widowed in 59, when 
her husband unexpectedly died before he assumed 
his proconsulship of Transalpine Gaul. Although it 
is unclear at what point she became part of the 
social set that included the well born, the notori- 
ous, the rich, and the cultured, she began an affair 
with the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus toward the 
end of her husband's life when she was about 
thirty-five years old, and Catullus, some 6 to 10 
years younger. 

Her lover was one of Rome's greatest poets, and 
his life marked the opening of the richest period in 
Latin poetry. Born around 85 b.c.e. in the vicinity 
of Verona, he lived his adult life primarily in Rome. 
He wrote in the years that preceded full-scale civil 
war, when festering political, social, and economic 
problems already made a patent mockery of the 
historical ideals of the republic. His poetry, built on 
Alexandrine literary traditions that had come into 
Roman culture from the East, often portrayed the 
political intrigue and gossip of the clannish Roman 
elite with a vivid and witty sting. Above all, how- 
ever, his poetry recorded his love for Lesbia. 

Lesbia was his name for Clodia. It was a refer- 
ence to Sappho, the greatest woman poet of the 
ancient world, and a tribute to Clodia's beauty and 
intelligence. The Lesbia poems followed the 
demand of poetic love for a grand passion of a 
mostly unhappy kind and may or may not reflect a 
progression that fully matched the reality of their 
relationship. Catullus largely portrayed himself as 
an adoring lover who suffered the imperious and 
unfaithful attentions of his adored. He portrayed 
Lesbia as the dominant partner in the relationship 
and as a woman unlikely to surrender herself for 
very long to idylls of love with a poet. 

The Lesbia poems also convey a timeless emo- 
tional reality. Catullus's aching love for Clodia/ 
Lesbia stands historically marked by lyrical lines of 
wanting. The less ardent love of Lesbia/Clodia 
wraps itself around her demands for gifts of value 
and her calculated uses of the love-struck poet for 


Clodia (3) 

her own ends. One of Catullus s repeated laments, 
and sometimes the subject of his most wickedly 
funny poems about Lesbia/Clodia, is her unwill- 
ingness to be faithful to him alone. 

Among her other men was Marcus Caelius 
Rufus. Some 8 to 10 years her junior, Caelius was 
a part of the same social set. He had come to Rome 
as a protege of Marcus Tallius Cicero and had been 
on the periphery of the conspirators around Lucius 
Sergius Catilina in 63 b.c.e. He held several politi- 
cal offices and was aedile under Cicero in Cilicia in 
50. An acknowledged orator, he had a caustic wit 
and charm, and was a brilliant prosecutor. 

Clodia began an affair with him after she was 
widowed, and the younger Caelius rented a house 
next door to her brother Publius. The relationship 
lasted about two years. It ended acrimoniously. In 
56, Caelius was charged with a five offenses includ- 
ing killing the Egyptian ambassador, robbing Clo- 
dia, and attempting to poison her. Clodia was 
among those who brought the charges. 

Both Clodia and her brother Clodius were ene- 
mies of the orator and statesman Cicero, consul in 
63 b.c.e. Cicero had testified against Clodius after 
the Bona Dea scandal in 62 (see Terentia [i]) and 
had made clear his dislike for Clodia's lifestyle. Her 
brother gained revenge when he was tribune in 58 
and passed a bill that exiled Cicero. Among Cae- 
lius's defenders was Cicero, only recently returned 
from exile and now presented with an opportunity 
to attack his enemy Clodia. 

Cicero's speech in favor of Caelius was a model 
courtroom oration. Vivid, clever, and very funny, 
the speech destroyed Clodia's credibility and her 
reputation. Cicero addressed her as if he were her 
most illustrious ancestor, the famous censor Appius 
Claudius. He instantly reduced her, a woman close 
to 40 years old, to the status of a child whose 
behavior was unsuitable for a woman. Cicero 
accused her of behaving in the manner of a prosti- 
tute. He very carefully never accused her of actu- 
ally being one, only of having a lifestyle associated 
with immoral women. He pointed to her house- 
hold, to her travels to the resort town of Baiae, to 
her collection of jewels, and to her friendships 
with men. He described her as the Medea of the 

Palatine who had led a mere youth astray, although 
Caelius was hardly an innocent. As a final blow, he 
insinuated that she and her brother, his sworn 
enemy, had an incestuous relationship. 

Caelius was acquitted, and nothing more was 
heard of Clodia. However, the information in the 
speech, when viewed without malice, also makes 
clear that Clodia had succeeded. She used her 
beauty and brains to offset her father's financial 
debacle and lived an independent, rich, and varied 
life, loved by one of Rome's greatest poets and with 
close ties to her family, especially her brother 


Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum 12.38, 42. 

Cicero. Pro Caelio, passim. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cicero 29.1-5. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 54-55. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 69-73. 
Grimal, Pierre. Love in Ancient Rome. Trans, by Arthur 

Train, Jr. New York: Crown Publishers, 1967, pp. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 

Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 350. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 66. 
Quinn, Kenneth, ed. Catullus: The Poems. 2d. ed. New 

York: St. Martin's Press, 1977, pp. 54-203. 

Clodia (3) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
convicted adulterer 

Roman: Rome 

Clodia was divorced for adultery after her brother 
incited rebellion among the troops under her hus- 
band's command. Her parents came from aristo- 
cratic families. Her mother's name is unknown, but 
it is certain that she came from the Metelli family. 
Her father was Appius Claudius Pulcher, consul in 
79 b.c.e. Tragedy struck her family when her father 
died destitute in 76. She was the youngest of three 
sisters, all named Clodia. Clodia (i) married 
Quintus Marcus Rex, consul in 68; Clodia (2) was 


Clodia (4) 

the lover of the poet Catullus, among others. Her 
youngest brother, Publius Clodius Pulcher, was a 
populist politician whose base of power lay with 
armed mobs and urban plebs. 

Clodia married Lucius Licinius Lucullus, con- 
sul in 74. Her husband, a relative on her mother's 
side, was an able soldier, politician, and provincial 
administrator, lacking only the gift of evoking loy- 
alty from troops and colleagues. He held military 
commands in Africa and Asia from which he 
greatly enhanced his personal wealth. He appears 
to have been among the few Romans of the time 
to have understood that strangling the cities with 
usurious interest rates, tax, or tribute to Rome was 
economically counterproductive. He successfully 
reorganized the debts owed Rome with a payment 
plan at moderate interest rates for the cities in the 

Clodia's wealthy husband and her populist 
brother ran on a collision course. In 68 b.c.e., 
when her husband was in Armenia and his troops 
were ready to mutiny, her brother incited rebel- 
lion. The war had been longer than anticipated, 
and its end was not in sight. Although the army 
had gained significant victories, there was a sense 
that Lucullus had benefited far more than had the 
soldiers. This was just the kind of situation in 
which her brother thrived. Gifted with articulating 
the discontent of Romans, her brother also believed 
that Lucullus had failed to adequately reward him. 
Moreover, the leadership in Rome had turned 
against Lucullus. Led by the equites, whose 
incomes suffered from his financial reorganization, 
they successfully clamored for him to be relieved of 
his command. 

Lucullus returned to Rome a frustrated and 
angry man who had to fight for a triumph. Shortly 
after he returned, he divorced Clodia for adultery. 
She had been in Italy for several years alone at a 
time when women were increasingly able to have 
independent social lives. Her sister Clodia (2) the 
lover of the poet Catullus, was part of a literary and 
social circle regarded by others as dissolute. With 
whom Clodia engaged in adulterous relationships 
is not clarified in the sources, which simply assert 
her immorality. Their hostility toward her probably 

reflects their conservative nature and is an exten- 
sion of their view of her brother and sister. 

Clodia had a son with Lucullus who died fight- 
ing on the side of Marcus Junius Brutus against 
Octavian and Mark Antony at Philippi in 42 b.c.e. 


Cicero. Pro Milone 73. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Lucullus 34.1; 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 186. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 67. 

Hj Clodia (4) 

(first century B.c.E.-first century 
c.e.) Roman: Rome 
-lived woman 

Clodia was the wife of an otherwise unknown 
Claudius Aufilius during the late republic. She sur- 
vived her husband and her 15 children. She was 
said to have died at the age of 1 15. 


Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 7.48, 158. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 68. 

[a] Clodia Laeta 

(?— 213 c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Clodia Laeta was one of four Vestal Virgins accused 
of sexual misconduct in 213 c.e. by the emperor 
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla). Clodia 
protested, claiming that Antoninus knew her to be 
a virgin. Still, she and her three sister Vestals, 
Aurelia Severa, Cannutia Crescentina, and 
Pomponia Rufina, were condemned. Clodia suf- 
fered the traditional punishment of being buried 
alive. In contrast with earlier times, the impropri- 
eties of Clodia and her sister Vestal Virgins raised 
few fears of omens of disaster for Rome. Nonethe- 
less, loyalty to tradition survived religious faith and 



an expectation of chastity from the Vestals remained 
the norm. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 78.16.1-3. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Sulla 6.10, 11. 
Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1963, p. 20. 

Hj Cloelia (I) 

(sixth century b.c.e.) 
Roman: Rome and Etruria 

Cloelia led a group of Roman hostages to free- 
dom. A heroine from the sixth century b.c.e., 
before the union of Etruria and Rome, she was 
among the hostages sent by Rome to the Etrus- 
cans as surety for a peace treaty. In a story that 
may well be apocryphal, Cloelia successfully orga- 
nized some of the hostages to swim back to 
Roman territory across the Tiber. The furious 
Etruscan ruler, Porsenna, demanded that Cloelia 
be returned; but in admiration of her daring, he 
promised her safety. 

Cloelia returned. Porsenna allowed her to chose 
one-half of the hostages to take back to Rome. 
With the approval of the hostages, she chose the 
younger boys, because, she argued, they were the 
most vulnerable. Cloelia was honored by the 
Romans with a statue on the Via Sacra. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 2.13.6— 11. 

Polyaenus. Strategemata 31. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 254. 

Hj Cloelia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
faultless wife; divorced 

Cloelia suffered divorce from the future dictator 
Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 88 b.c.e., ostensibly 
because she was childless. Faultless in marriage, 
she secured Sulla's praise and gifts of value as part 
of the divorce. Within a few weeks of the divorce, 
her ex-husband married his fourth wife, Caecilia 
Metella (i), who was both very wealthy and bet- 
ter connected. 


(sixth century b.c.e. 
political wife 

Greek: Athens 

Coesyra was the daughter of Megacles from the 
aristocratic Athenian clan of the Alcmaeonidae 
and was ready for marriage at a critical political 
moment. In 560 b.c.e. her father and his ally Lyc- 
urgus had deposed Pisistratus, the tyrant of Ath- 
ens. When the relationship between Lycurgus and 
Megacles soured, her father offered the deposed 
Pisistratus an alliance. Marriage with Coesyra 
sealed the bargain. 

Pisistratus, however, already had grown sons 
and had neither the need nor the desire for more 
children — especially with Coesyra, for her family 
suffered under an ancient curse. An ancestor, also 
named Megacles, had been an archon in Athens 
in 632 b.c.e. He had promised to spare the lives 
of a group of men who had seized the Acropolis. 
Instead, he induced some of them to leave the 
sacred precinct of Athena and killed a number of 
others at the altar of Eumenides. No good would 
come of any descendants of Megacles, it was 

Coesyra reported to her mother that her hus- 
band's sexual behavior inhibited conception. Her 
father again changed sides and joined the opposi- 
tion that drove Pisistratus out of Athens. 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 1.60— 61. 

[b] Constantia 

(361/362-383 c.e.) Roman: Italy 

Constantia's youth made becoming Augusta 
unlikely. She was the daughter of the empress Fla- 
via Maxima Faustina and the emperor Constan- 
tine II. She became Augusta after her husband, 
Gratian, became emperor in 379. 


Constantia, Flavia Julia 

Constantia was born after her father died cam- 
paigning in 361. She lived with her mother in 
Constantinople. A usurper, Procopius, claimed to 
be emperor. With a few regiments under his con- 
trol, he captured Constantinople. To gain some 
legitimacy and to curry favor with the troops, he 
took the four-year-old Constantia and her mother 
captive. He displayed them on marches with his 
troops, sometimes taking them almost into battle. 
He was soon overthrown by Gratian. 

Constantia married Gratian in 374 and died 
before her husband in 383. 


Ammiamus Marcellinus. Histories xxi. 15, 6; xxvi. 7, 10; 

Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopedia of the Ancient World: Classical 
Tradition, Vol. 3, edited by Manfred Landfester et al. 
Boston: Brill, 2002, 708-709 (names her Constantina). 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 221. 

[b] Constantia, Flavia Julia 

(?-c. 329 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, eastern Roman Empire, and 


Augusta; early Christian 

Flavia Julia Constantia, a half sister of the emperor 
Constantine the Great, was a participant in the 
political and religious controversies of the early 
Christian church. She was greatly influenced by the 
Alexandrian priest Arius, whose teaching that Christ 
the Son was subordinate to God the Father was the 
most serious doctrinal controversy of the period. 
She was one of six children. Her father Constantius 
I had been appointed Caesar in the West under 
Maximian by the emperor Diocletian. Her mother 
was Flavia Maximiana Theodora. In 313 c.e. Con- 
stantia married Valerius Licinius, the emperor of the 
East, to bolster his alliance with Constantine. 

The marriage of Constantia and Licinius in 
Milan spurred Valerius Maximinus Daia to begin a 
war. His defeat left her husband and half brother 
the two supreme rulers of the empire, and Con- 

stantia became Augusta in the East. Using her 
position, she sought to foster a reconciliation in 
the church. She corresponded with Bishop Euse- 
bius of Caesarea, a leader of the Arian sect and 
today recognized as the church's first historian, and 
brought Eusebius to meet with Arius before the 
Council of Nicaea in 325. 

The alliance between her half brother and hus- 
band faltered, and Constantine defeated her hus- 
band in battle at Chrysopolis in 324. She fled 
with her husband but intervened with her brother 
and secured her husband's freedom. Her efforts 
were short-lived. Her husband, allowed to rule 
over a much smaller area with its capital at Nico- 
media in Asia Minor, was later put to death after 
being accused of plotting against Constantine. 

After the death of her husband, she and her 
two children, Licinius and Helena, returned to 
Rome and lived in Constantine's court. She exer- 
cised sufficient influence for her half brother to 
mint coins with her likeness and to name the port 
city of Gaza after her. Her work with church lead- 
ers continued. She was present at the Council of 
Nicaea in 325 and persuaded her Arian friends to 
formally recognize the doctrine of the unity of 
God the Father and Son, and to take confession. 
She died about 329. Her young son, Licinius, was 
executed on orders of Constantine for unknown 


Eutropius. Breviarium ab urhe condita 10.5, 6. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 13. 

[b] Constantina 

(?-354 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, Asia Minor, Antioch 


Constantina, the eldest daughter of the Augusta 
Flavia Maxima Fausta and the emperor Constan- 
tine the Great, was cruel. Perhaps because her 
father executed her mother for reasons unknown 
in 326 when she was young. 



She married her first cousin King Hanniballia- 
nus, who was the son of her father's brother. In 
335, her father made her Augusta. Constantine 
also gave her husband control of Pontus, Armenia 
Minor, and Cappadocia in Asia Minor. After the 
death of Constantine in 337, the army mutinied 
and murdered a number of high-ranking officials 
including King Hanniballianus. 

The three sons of Constantine, Constantine, 
Constantius, and Constans, fought over the 
empire. Constans, the youngest, defeated Con- 
stantine, the eldest, who died during the battle. 
Constans now controlled two-thirds of the empire. 
In 350, he was killed in a palace revolution by 
Magnentius, one of his senior officers, who offered 
to marry Constantina. Her remaining brother, 
Constantius, refused the alliance. Constantina 
encouraged Vetranio, Master of Soldiers, to take 
sides against Magnentius, who was eventually 
defeated. She then married Flavius Claudius Con- 
stantius Callus, another cousin and nephew of her 
father. Appointed Caesar in 351 by the remaining 
brother who had become Constantine II, they 
resided in Antioch where they spied on everyone 
and executed anyone who they even suspected of 
slandering them. They caused such chaos that 
Constantine had Callus killed. 

Constantina went to visit her brother to secure 
his pardon, but contracted a fever and died in 
Bythnia, in northwest Asia Minor, in 354. Her 
remains were buried in Rome. The basilica of St. 
Agnes was built by her, and she founded a monas- 
tery in Rome. 


Ammiamus Marcellinus. xiv. 1, 1; 7, 4; 9, 3; 11,6, 22. 

Philostorgius. Historia Ecclesiastical?), 11. 

Valesius. Excerpts 5, 14-15. 

Bleckmann, Bruno. "Constantina, Vetranio, and Gallus 
Caesar." Chiron 24 (1994): 30 ff. 

Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopedia of the Ancient World: Classi- 
cal Tradition, Vol. 3, edited by Manfred Landfester et al. 
Boston: Brill, 2002, p. 709. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 222. 

[b] Corellia Hispulla 

(first-second century c.E.) Roman: Italy 
affluent woman; litigant 

Corellia Hispulla, the daughter of Hispulla and 
Corellius Rufus, enjoyed a lifelong friendship with 
Pliny the Younger. They engaged in business and 
shared family successes and concerns. Corellia mar- 
ried their mutual friend Mucinius Justus. Through- 
out her life she bought and sold shares in property 
that she had inherited from family and friends. At 
one time she expressed an interest to Pliny in own- 
ing land on Lake Comum (Como). Instead of dis- 
posing of a recent legacy of five-twelfths of an 
estate, he offered it to Corellia at whatever price she 
wished to pay. She gave him 700,000 sesterces for 
the land. Later, when she found out that Pliny 
could have received 200,000 more, she offered him 
the difference, but he refused. 

In the legalistic society of the first century c.E., 
many if not most propertied people probably 
found themselves in court at one time or another. 
Pliny defended Corellia in a suit brought against 
her by the consul-elect Caecilius. The content of 
the suit is unknown, but Pliny maintained friendly 
relations with Caecilius. After her husband's death 
from painful gout, she assumed responsibility for 
her children and continued to correspond with 
Pliny about their education. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 1.12; 3.3; 4.17; 7.11, 14. 


(third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Tanagra 

Corinna was a poet from Tanagra, in Greece, who 
probably lived in the third century b.c.e. Her par- 
ents were Procatia and Acheloadorus. She wrote 
lyric poems in a local Boeotian dialect. Her sub- 
jects were the legends of gods and heroes presented 
in a simple and straightforward narrative without 
metaphors or similes. Unlike Sappho's work, her 
poetry was neither passionate nor personal. 

In the works of Pausanius and Plutarch there 
are references to her life that place her in the sixth 


Cornelia (I) 

century b.c.e. as a contemporary of the Greek poet 
Pindar, against whom she was said to have won 
five competitions. Pausanius wrote that in her 
tomb at Tanagra there was a painting that por- 
trayed her in the gymnasium at Thebes binding 
her hair with a fillet in honor of her victory over 
Pindar. He credited her victory to her beauty and 
to the Aeolian dialect of her poetry which he 
claimed was understood better than the Doric 
used by Pindar. However, her name first appeared 
in the first century b.c.e., possibly as a later addi- 
tion to the compendium of women poets origi- 
nally collected by the Alexandrians. The third 
century b.c.e. is now considered a more likely time 
period for her life. 

Knowledge of her poetry has come mainly from 
papyrus texts written in the first three centuries 
c.e. Propertius and Ovid, Roman poets of the first 
century c.e., named their poetic lovers Corinna in 
celebration of her beauty, gracefulness, and 


Ovid, passim. 

Pausanias. Description of Greece 9.22.3. 

Propertius. Elegies passim. 

Campbell, David A. Greek Lyric. 5 vols. Cambridge: Har- 
vard University Press, 1982-93, pp. 1-3, 19-23. 

Fantham, Elaine, et al. Women in the Classical World. New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 166-167. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 290. 

Page, Denys L. Corinna. London: Society for the Promo- 
tion of Hellenic Studies, 1953. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, p. 52. 

[H Cornelia (I) 

(second century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player 

Cornelia was widowed after her husband killed her 
nephew and then committed suicide. She was the 
elder daughter of Aemilia Tertia and the great 
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major, the 
conqueror of Hannibal and sister of Cornelia (2). 

Her father was attracted to Greek philosophy and 
literature, and educated his children, including his 
daughters, in the controversial new learning of the 

Cornelia married a cousin, Publius Cornelius 
Scipio Nasica, consul in 138 b.c.e. Her husband 
and her nephew Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, 
the son of her sister Cornelia (2), were opponents. 
Faced with a growing landless population that col- 
lected in Rome, Tiberius and his brother Gaius led 
the effort to reform the use of public land and for- 
give debts. Their powerful opposition was led by 
conservative landed interests. Cornelias conserva- 
tive husband was in the forefront of the mob that 
killed Tiberius. 

Scipio Nasica left Rome to escape popular 
anger. Eventually he committed suicide in Per- 
gamum. Cornelia remained in Rome and later 
lived with her mother on their estates in Southern 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Tiberius Gracchus 
19.1-6; 21.3-4. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 406. 

Richardson, Keith. Daggers in the Forum: The Revolutionary 
Lives and Violent Deaths of the Gracchus Brothers. Lon- 
don: Cassell, 1976, pp. 94-95. 

Cornelia (2) 

(c. 190s-121 B.C.E.) 
political player 

Roman: Italy 

Cornelia was both formidable and influential. 
Born in the 190s b.c.e. into one of Rome's most 
distinguished families, Cornelia was the second 
daughter of Aemilia Tertia and the general who 
had conquered Hannibal, Publius Cornelius Scipio 
Africanus Major. Her father was attracted to Greek 
culture and gave his daughters, Cornelia and her 
sister Cornelia (i), an education in Greek litera- 
ture and philosophy, which was still unusual even 
for men. She married only once, raised her chil- 
dren as a widow, and bore the death of both her 
sons with courage and fortitude. 


Cornelia (2) 

Cornelia was a wealthy woman. She received 25 
talents from her mother on her marriage and 
another 25 talents after her mothers death. She 
married well, the wealthy and much older Tiberius 
Sempronius Gracchus who was comfortable with 
an unusually well-educated wife. He was a fine sol- 
dier and an excellent provincial governor, consul 
twice, in 177 and 163, and censor in 169. Her mar- 
riage gave rise to an apocryphal story. As repeated 
by the historian Livy, Cornelias father arranged her 
marriage at the urging of Roman senators without 
the prior approval of her mother. Her mother, furi- 
ous at not having been consulted, only forgave her 
husband when she discovered that the bridegroom 
was the illustrious Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. 

Her husband died in 154 b.c.e., and Cornelia 
became a sought-after widow. She remained inter- 
ested in the East, and Ptolemy VIII Physcon, ruler of 
Cyrene, offered her marriage in 154. Almost contin- 
ually at odds with his older brother, Ptolemy VI 
Philometor, he no doubt rightly believed that his 
influence in Rome would be greatly enhanced 
through a marital alliance with Cornelia. So too 
would his purse. After her husbands death, however, 
Cornelia devoted herself to her children and manag- 
ing her estates. She employed Greek tutors for her 
children to provide an education for them like her 
own in philosophy and mathematics. In a famous 
story that is most probably apocryphal, when a visi- 
tor, possibly Ptolemy, displayed to her a collection of 
magnificent jewels, Cornelia pointed to her children 
and replied that they were her jewels. 

Of the 12 children she had borne before her 
husband's death, only three survived into adult- 
hood. Her two sons, Tiberius and Gaius Grac- 
chus became the most famous men of their day. 
They led Rome in an effort for land reform and 
debt forgiveness that would stem the growing 
problems of a landless urban poor. Both were 
killed, but not before politics had also rent the 
family. Her son Tiberius was killed by his politi- 
cal opponent and uncle, the husband of Corne- 
lia's sister. Her only daughter, Sempronia (i), 
married Scipio Aemilianus in 129, another oppo- 
nent of the reforms. It was an unhappy marriage, 
and his sudden death provoked rumors that Sem- 

pronia and Cornelia had murdered him. The two 
women were close and lived together after Sem- 
pronia was widowed. 

Historians have differed over Cornelia's politics 
about land reform, which had so dominated the 
life and death of her sons. On one hand, in a frag- 
ment of a letter that she was purported to have 
written and that had been preserved by the histo- 
rian Cornelius Nepos, she chastised her son Gaius 
for policies that were destroying the state. On the 
other hand, the validity of the letter has been seri- 
ously challenged since Nepos wrote at a time when 
the ruling oligarchy wanted the Gracchi discred- 
ited. Plutarch, moreover, reported that Cornelia 
hired men from abroad to come to Rome disguised 
as reapers and aid Gaius. What has never been dis- 
puted was her influence on the behavior of her 
children. Although Gaius attacked the tribune 
Marcus Octavius for his veto of Tiberius's agrarian 
reforms in 133 b.c.e., he also withdrew the bill 
that might have meant exile for the same tribune, 
claiming it was at the request of his mother. 

After the assassination of Tiberius, Cornelia 
retired to her estate in Misenum on the Bay of 
Naples where she entertained notables of the day. 
While there, she received news of Gaius's death. 
Cornelia wrote voluminously, and her letters were 
published, although only the challenged fragment 
quoted by Nepos remains. She died in 121. The 
Romans honored her with a bronze statue. 


Cicero. Brutus 104, 21 1. 

Livy. From the Founding of the City 38.57.5—8. 

Nepos. "Letter of Cornelia," in Horsfall, N„ pp. 41-43. 

Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 34.31. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Gaius Gracchus 
4.1; 13.2. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Tiberius Gracchus 
1.4-5; 4.1-3; 19.1-6; 21.3-4. 

Polybius. Histories 31.27. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 392. 


Cornelia (3) 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 407. 

Stockton, David. The Gracchi. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1986, pp. 24-25. 

[H Cornelia (3) 

(second— first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
great-great-grandmother of Tiberius 

Cornelia was the great-grandmother of the power- 
ful, independent, and wealthy Livia Drusilla, the 
wife of Augustus and mother of the emperor 
Tiberius. Cornelia married Marcus Livius Drusus, 
consul in 1 12 b.c.e., who successfully opposed the 
election of Gaius Gracchus as tribune. Widowed 
during her husband's consulship, she also outlived 
her son, who was tribune in 9 1 . Her son was assas- 
sinated after proposing reforms for which the rul- 
ing oligarchy would be credited. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 409. 

[H Cornelia (4) 

(second-first century b.c.e.) 
Roman: Rome and Italy 

Cornelia was the daughter of the Roman general 
and dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla. In 82-81 b.c.e., 
her father led a ruthless proscription that solidified 
his power and eliminated key opposition families. 
Cornelia benefited from the sudden surplus of 
properties available on the market and bought for 
a relatively small sum a beautiful villa at Baiae, one 
of the most desirable locations on the Bay of Naples, 
which figured prominently in the lives of the Roman 
elite during the last century b.c.e. The property she 
acquired had once belonged to Gaius Marius, the 
brilliant general and major opponent of Sulla, who 
died in 86. Cornelia later sold the property to Lucius 
Licinius Lucullus, the husband of Clodia (3), for 
some 33 times the original sum. This is an unusually 
vivid illustration of the inflation that accompanied 
life throughout the century and that was the cause 
of at least some of the political instability. 


Cornelia was the wife of Quintus Pompeius 
Rufus, son of her father's coconsul in 88 b.c.e. 
With her husband, who was murdered at the end 
of 88, she had two children: Quintus Pompeius 
Rufus, tribune in 52, and Pompeia (i), who 
became the wife of Julius Caesar and was a suspect 
in the Bona Dea scandal of 62. 

In 51, her son became involved in a public trial 
and sought from her several farm properties that 
she held in trust for him. Initially she refused, but 
an emissary convinced her to change her mind. It 
remains unclear whether she was rapacious, as 
reported by the ancient commentator Valerius 
Maximus, or simply a good businesswoman. 

She spent much of her life in Baiae and died 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Marius 34.2. 
Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorahilium 

libri 1X4.2.7. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 412. 

Cornelia (5) 
(?-68 B.C.E.) 
brave woman 

Roman: Rome 

Cornelia was the granddaughter of Lucius Corne- 
lius Cinna, consul in 87-84 b.c.e. and political 
ally of the general Gaius Marius. In 84 she married 
Julius Caesar, the nephew of Julia (i) and Marius. 
For both it was a first marriage. He was 16 years 
old; she was probably slightly younger. They had 
one daughter, Julia (5). 

These were difficult years. After Marius's death 
and Lucius Cornelius Sulla's victory over Cinna, 
Sulla initiated a proscription against Marian sup- 
porters. Cornelia was vulnerable. Caesar could 
provide little support. He had rejected Sulla's 
demand that he break with the Marian faction 
and divorce Cornelia. Stripped of his priesthood 
and forbidden his inheritance, he went into hid- 
ing and left Rome for Asia where over the next 
decade he studied and honed his military skills. 
Cornelia, despite her husband's proscription from 
public life and the loss of her dowry, remained in 

Cornelia (8) 

Italy, if not Rome. Possibly she was aided by Cae- 
sar's aunt Julia. 

Several years before Cornelia's death Sulla par- 
doned Caesar, and he returned to Rome and his 
wife. She died in 68 b.c.e. Caesar gave the funeral 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Caesar 1.1—2. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Caesar 1.1—3. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 413. 

Cornelia (6) 

(first century b.c.e/ 
cultured woman 

Roman: Rome 

Cornelia was the beautiful and cultured daughter 
of Aemilia Lepida (i) and the corrupt Quintus 
Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, consul in 52 b.c.e. 
Said to be educated in mathematics and philoso- 
phy, she married Publius Licinius Crassus, the 
younger son of the triumvir, in 55 b.c.e. He died 
in 53 fighting the Parthians in Syria. The following 
year she married Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the 
Great). Her new husband sought an alliance with 
Cornelia's prominent, rich, and aristocratic family. 
He also rescued her father from a bribery charge 
and made him his coconsul. 

The marriage was successful. When Pompey left 
Italy at the head of the republicans in 49, Cornelia 
and their young son, Sextus, went to the island of 
Lesbos. After Caesar defeated Pompey at Pharsalus 
in 48, Cornelia met her husband in Mitylene, the 
chief city of Lesbos. Together they sailed to Cilicia 
in southern Asia Minor and then to Egypt, where 
she witnessed his fatal stabbing as he landed on 
September 28, 48 b.c.e. 

Cornelia left Egypt for Cyprus and then, with 
Caesar's permission, returned to Italy bearing her 
husband's ashes. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 2.83, 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pompeius 55, 66, 

74, 76, 78-80. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996,392. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, p. 171. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 417. 

Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1963, p. 40. 

Cornelia (7) 

(c. 46 B.C.E.-?) 

political wife 

Roman: Rome 

Cornelia was the daughter of Pompeia (2) and 
Faustus Cornelius Sulla. Her grandfathers were 
Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the formidable dictator of 
Rome, and Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the Great), 
consul in 70 and the leader of the republican forces 
against Caesar. 

Born no later than 46 b.c.e., she married Quin- 
tus Aemilius Lepidus and joined in the most politi- 
cally active circle of women in Rome. Her 
father-in-law was a member of the Second Trium- 
virate, established in 43 b.c.e., together with Mark 
Antony and Octavian. Her mother-in-law, Junia 
(1), was the daughter of Servilia (i). Servilia, 
once the lover of Julius Caesar, was the half sister 
of Cato Uticensis, and the mother of Marcus 
Junius Brutus. 

Cornelia's two children, Aemilia Lepida (2) 
and Manius Aemilius Lepidus, consul in 1 1 c.e. 
survived the civil wars and became public figures 
in the early empire. 


Tacitus. Annales 3.22. 1 . 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[H Cornelia (8) 

(?— 16 b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
eulogized by Propertius 

Cornelia was eulogized by Propertius in a long 
poem commissioned by her husband after her 


Cornelia (9) 

death in 16 b.c.e., during the consulship of her 
brother, Publius Cornelius Scipio. Presented in the 
form of a funeral oration or a long epitaph, Corne- 
lia speaks for herself from the grave. She accounts 
for her life and measures herself against the highest 
of traditional Roman ideals. Proudly she describes 
herself as an univira, a woman married only once. 
She admonishes her two children to know their 
history and to carry on the noble family tradition, 
to assure the immortality of her name. 

Cornelia gives her lineage on both her mothers 
and her fathers side. She reaches back into Roman 
history of the second century b.c.e. and to her 
ancestor the great general Publius Cornelius Scipio 
Africanus Major, who conquered Hannibal. She 
identifies her parents as Scribonia and her second 
husband, Publius Cornelius Scipio, consul suffec- 
tus in 35 b.c.e. She speaks movingly of her mar- 
riage and her husband, Paullus Aemilius Lepidus, 
consul suffectus in 34 and censor in 22. She figura- 
tively soothes his sorrow and assures him that it 
will pass. 

Cornelia was the half sister of Julia (6). Her two 
sons were Lucius Aemilius Paullus, consul in 1 c.e., 
and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, consul in 6 c.e. 
Lucius Aemilius Paullus married the grandaughter 
of Augustus, Julia (7), in 4 b.c.e. 


Propenius. Elegies 4.1 1.36, 61-72. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 419. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[a] Cornelia (9) 

(first century B.c.E.-first century 
c.e.) Roman: Rome 
loyal wife 

Cornelia, a member of the Scipiones family, mar- 
ried Lucius Volusius Saturninus, consul in 3 c.e. In 
24 c.e., when her husband was 62, she bore him a 
son, Quintus Volusius Saturninus, who became 
consul in 56. Her husband died in the year his son 
became consul when he was 93 years old. 


Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 7.62. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 423. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, pp. 252 ff. 

Cornelia (10) 

(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Cornelia received a dowry of 2 million sesterces when 
she became a Vestal Virgin in 23 c.e. The commit- 
ment to the priesthood was optional after 30 years. 
Since Cornelia became a priestess at a young age, she 
could later marry. Moreover, her wealth would remain 
intact throughout her priestly years, and she could 
leave the priesthood a very wealthy woman. 


Tacitus. Annales 4.16. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 422. 

Cornelia (II) 

(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Rome, Germany 

Cornelia went to Germany with her husband, 
Gaius Calvisius Sabinus, consul in 26 c.e. and 
then governor of Pannonia. Although by this time 
it was not uncommon for wives accompany their 
husbands, military camps at night were largely off- 
limits to women. With the complicity of the tri- 
bune Titus Vinius, Cornelia entered the camp after 
dark disguised as a soldier. She watched the drills 
and, according to Tacitus, committed adultery in 
the general's headquarters. 

Returning to Rome in 39 c.e., Cornelia was 
charged with accompanying the sentries on their 
rounds and watching them drill. Her husband was 
accused of abetting her. They both committed sui- 
cide before the trial. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 59.18.4. 
Tacitus. Historiae 1.48. 



Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 424. 

(U Cornelia (12) 

(?— 90 c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Cornelia was the head of the college of Vestal Vir- 
gins when the emperor Domitian began a purity 
campaign in 83 C.e. to improve public morality. 
He attacked the Vestal Virgins and the temple in 
the Forum as a sinkhole of immorality that had 
existed from before his reign. Three of the Vestal 
Virgins, the two sisters Oculata and Varronilla, 
were forced to choose how they should die. Corne- 
lia was found innocent of any charges. 

Domitian was determined that she be found 
guilty. He renewed the charges in 90 and convened 
the pontiffs at his villa in the city of Alba Longa, 
some 15 miles southeast of Rome, rather than in the 
pontifical court in Rome. Cornelia was condemned 
and sentenced to death for incest without being 
present to rebut the charges. Such was Domitian's 
hostility to Cornelia that he also decreed that the 
punishment should be entombment while still alive, 
instead of allowing her to choose her own manner 
of death. 

Cornelia protested her innocence as she was led 
to her burial place. Celer, the Roman equestrian 
accused of consorting with her, protested his inno- 
cence as he was whipped to death in a public square. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 4.11 ff. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Domitian 8. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 241. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 426. 

[b] Cornificia 

(?— 211 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political victim 

Cornificia was the daughter of the younger Anna 
Galeria Faustina and the emperor Marcus Aure- 

lius. A period of unrest followed her father's death 
in 180 c.e. In 193 Septimius Severus became 
emperor. He died in 211 leaving two sons who 
hated each other; the brothers, Marcus Aurelius 
Antoninus known as Caracalla, and Septimius 
Geta, quarreled over succession. 

Their mother was Julia Domna, with whom 
Cornificia maintained at least a formal friendship. 
Julia Domna sought to mediate between her sons. 
After calling for a meeting with Geta and his 
mother, Caracalla instead sent centurions who 
murdered Geta in his mother's arms. Cornificia 
visited Julia Domna to mourn Geta's death. Cara- 
calla took offense. Geta, he claimed, had commit- 
ted treason, and anyone who wept for his death 
also committed treason. 

He ordered that Cornificia die. She was allowed 
to commit suicide. Cornificia opened her veins 
and went to her death mindful that she was a 
daughter of the great emperor Marcus Aurelius, 
and calling upon her spirit that was soon to be free 
of her body. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 78. 16.6a. 
Herodian. History of the Empire 4.6.3. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 154. 

[b] Cratesicleia 

(third century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Sparta and Egypt 

Cratesicleia was a Spartan aristocrat who gambled 
her life and fortune in support of reform during 
the third century b.c.e. She was the wife of the 
Spartan ruler Leonidas II, who led a conservative 
faction that opposed debt relief or land and citi- 
zenship reform. Her son Cleomenes III (260—219 
b.c.e.), who followed his father in 235, pursued 
reformist policies. To support him, Cratesicleia 
pooled her property with that of other family 
members and allowed a redistribution of the land 
to ease the burden of debt that was driving many 
into poverty. 



Although she did not seek a second husband, a 
marital alliance with Aristonous X assured her son 
support from one of the most prominent citizens 
of Sparta. When Cleomenes sought the aid of 
Ptolemy III Euergetes of Egypt in a war against 
Antigonus III, ruler of Macedonia, Ptolemy 
demanded Cratesicleia and Cleomenes' children as 
hostages. Willingly she went. 

After Cleomenes' defeat in 222 b.c.e., he went 
to Egypt where Ptolemy III promised ships and 
money. Ptolemy III died in 221, and his successor, 
Ptolemy IV Philopator, was no friend. Cleomenes 
led a group of Spartans in an attack to free the 
hostages. They killed a number of Egyptians but 
failed to ignite a revolt in Alexandria. Rather than 
face capture, Cleomenes and his soldiers killed 

Ptolemy IV ordered Cratesicleia, her women 
attendants, and her grandsons killed. Although she 
requested that she die first, she was the last to be 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cleomenes 6.1- -2; 
11.1-2; 22.3-7; 38.3-6. 

Mosse, Claude. "Women in the Spartan Revolutions 
of the Third Century B.C." In Women's History and 
Ancient History, ed. by Sarah B. Pomeroy. Chapel 
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 
145-146, 148. 


(fourth century b.c.e. 

Greek: Sicyon 

Cratesipolis became ruler of the Greek city of 
Sicyon in 314 b.c.e. after the death of her hus- 
band, Alexander, the son of Polyperchon — a gen- 
eral under Alexander the Great. On her husband's 
death, she was welcomed by the soldiers, who 
esteemed her highly for her acts of kindness, her 
practical skills, and her daring. 

When the people of Sicyon revolted, she crushed 
the rebellion. The name Cratesipolis, meaning 
conqueror of the city, was conferred on her after 
her victory. She also ruled Corinth until she was 
defeated by Ptolemy I Soter in 308. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 19.67.1—2; 22.37.1. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 106,233. 


(first century C.E.) 
brave woman 

Roman: Rome 

Crispina ransomed her father's body after his death. 
Her father, Titus Vinius, consul in 69 c.e., was a 
close adviser of the emperor Servius Sulpicius Galba. 
He was murdered by the soldiers of Marcus Salvius 
Otho when they assassinated Galba in 69. Taking 
responsibility for the burial rites, she negotiated 
payment with the slayers and retrieved his body. 


Tacitus. Historiae 1.47. 

Crispina Bruttia 

(second century c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Crispina Bruttia lived and died by intrigue. Her 
father was Gaius Bruttius Praesens, consul in 180 
c.e., and her husband, Lucius Aelius Aurelius 
Commodus, was the elder son of the emperor 
Marcus Aurelius. She married in 177, the same 
year that her husband became joint ruler with his 
father. Three years later, after the death of her 
father-in-law, her husband became emperor. 

Her sister-in-law Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla 
vied with Crispina for position and influence. 
About 182, Lucilla organized a plot to assassinate 
her brother. It failed. She was exiled and then exe- 
cuted. In 1 87, Crispina suffered a similar fate. She 
was found guilty of adultery and banished to 
Capri, where she was killed. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 72.33.1; 73.6. 

Herodian. History of the Empire 1.8.4. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Commodus 5.11. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae.Ma.rcus Aurelius Antoninus 

(Caracalla) 27.8. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 147-148. 


Cytheris Volumnia 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 17. 

[b] Cynane 

(?-322 b.c.e.) 

Greek: Macedonia and Asia Minor 

political player 

Cynane vied with Olympias (i) to rule Macedonia 
after the death of Alexander the Great. She and 
Alexander were half-siblings through their father, 
Philip II. Her mother was Audata from Illyria along 
the Adriatic Sea opposite Italy. Cynane was said to 
have fought by the side of her father when he cam- 
paigned in Illyria, and she killed Caeria, an Illyrian 
woman ruler, in combat. She married Amyntas, 
Philips nephew, and had a daughter, Eurydice 
(Adea) (2). Alexander had Amyntas killed, proba- 
bly to solidify his claim to Macedonia after his 
fathers death. Cynane did not marry again. 

Cynane was independently wealthy and after 
Alexanders death determined to use her daughter 
to lay claim to Macedonia. Her plan was simple: 
The generals had declared two children, Philip 
Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, joint rulers of Mace- 
donia in 323. Alexander was the son of Alexander 
the Great and Roxane. He was an infant and 
fiercely protected by his mother. Philip Arrhidaeus, 
however, was the son of Philip II and Philinna, 
less protected and not fully competent. Cynane 
decided to marry her daughter Eurydice to Philip. 
In 322, she organized an army and took her daugh- 
ter to Asia where Philip resided under the control 
of Alexander's general Antipater, who had been 
appointed regent for the two heirs. 

Antipater failed to stop Cynane and her army 
from crossing the Strymon River. She came face to 
face with the Macedonian forces under Alcestas, 
who ordered her to withdraw or be killed. Cynane 
declared herself ready to die unless Alcestas met 
her demand that Philip Arrhidaeus marry Eurydice. 
On orders of Alcestas, she was killed before her 
own daughter and the Macedonian troops. 

Shocked by what had happened, the troops 
threatened to revolt unless the marriage took place. 

Perdiccas, who held the chief executive authority 
after the death of Alexander, acquiesced, even 
though he had hoped to marry Cleopatra (3), the 
daughter of Olympias and full sister of Alexander, 
and claim the Macedonian throne for himself. 


Polyaenus. Strategemata 8.16. 

Carney, Elizabeth D. "The Career of Adea-Eurydice," pp. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 48-52. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 

Schocken, 1984, pp. 6-7. 


(fourth century b.c.e.) 
self-made woman 

Greek: Sparta 

Cynisca, a wealthy woman, was the daughter of 
the Spartan ruler Archidamus and the sister of Agis 
II, who succeeded her father. She was among the 
first women to breed horses and the first to gain an 
Olympic victory. 

At the beginning of the fourth century b.c.e., 
when the owner of the horses and the racing driver 
no longer needed to be the same person, the races 
opened to women. Cynisca's horses won the four- 
horse chariot race and two other victories. Her 
name was inscribed on the victor lists. She erected a 
memorial of bronze horses at Olympia to celebrate 
her victory, as well a statue of herself in Elis sculpted 
by Apelles. 

Pausanias. Description of Greece 3.8.1— 2; 3.15.1; 6.1.6. 

Harris, H. A. Sport in Greece and Rome. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cor- 
nell University Press, 1972, p. 178. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, p. 130. 

[b] Cytheris Volumnia 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
self-made woman 

Cytheris Volumnia was a famous, beautiful, and 
wealthy freedwoman of the late Roman republic. 
A talented mime, she was the lover of several 

Cytheris Volumnia 

politically important men including Mark Ant- Sources 

ony and Marcus Junius Brutus. In a letter to his Plutarch. Vitae Paralklae (Parallel Lives): Antonius 9.5. 

friend Lucius Papirius Paetus, written in 46 b. Cicero. De amicitia 9.26.2. 

C.E., Marcus Tullius Cicero mentioned her pres- Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

ence at a dinner party he had attended. Years Women in Ckssical Anti 1 uit y- New York: Schocken 

I, ,l r \r -\ ... T fU , Books, 1975, pp. 198-199. 

later, the poet Virgil composed his lenth hclogue rr 

on the theme of Cornelius Callus's obsession with 






(third century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Greek: Athens and Syria 

Danae saved her lover and died a traitor. Her 
mother, Leontion, rivaled Theophrastus, Aristot- 
le's successor, as the leading philosopher in Athens. 
Her father, Metodorus, was the most important 
disciple of Epicurus. Her father died several years 
before his teacher, who took responsibility for 
Danaes future. In his will, Metodorus left Danae a 
dowry and instructions to his executors to arrange 
a marriage for her with another member of the 
Epicurean school when she came of age. 

Nothing is known of the intervening years 
before Danae became the favored attendant of the 
powerful Laodice I in Antioch. The very wealthy 
Laodice had established her own household after 
her husband, Antiochus II, had married a younger 
woman. Later reconciled with him, he mysteri- 
ously died before he could renege on his promise 
to appoint her son his heir. 

Among the cities under Laodices control was 
Ephesus. She appointed a man named Sophron to 
govern the city. He and Danae were lovers. For 
unknown reasons, Laodice became suspicious of 
Sophron and summoned him to Antioch, intend- 
ing to kill him. Danae signaled him a warning dur- 

ing his audience with Laodice. Sophron grasped the 
situation and requested that Laodice give him two 
days to contemplate their discussion. He escaped. 
Later he helped the Egyptians take Ephesus and 
became a commander in the Egyptian navy. 

Laodice discovered Danae's treachery and 
ordered her thrown off a cliff. While she was being 
led to her death, Danae was reputed to have said 
that it was no wonder the gods were despised. She 
had saved her lover and was to be killed, while 
Laodice had murdered her husband and was 
rewarded with glory and a kingdom. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 593c-d. 

Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 85-86. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 
mother of Alcihiades 

Greek: Athens 

Deinomache was the daughter of Megacles of the 
aristocratic family of the Alcmaeonidae. She mar- 
ried Cleinias, who outfitted a trireme and fought 
against the Persians at Artemisium in 480 b.c.e. 
Widowed in 447 when her husband was killed in a 



battle with the Boeotians, she had a son, Alcibia- 
des, known for his beauty, his treachery, and his 
leadership of the Athenians. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Alcibiades 1.1. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Greek: Syracuse 

Demarete was immortalized on coins issued by her 
husband, Gelon, who ruled Gela and Syracuse, 
two of the greatest Hellenic cities in Sicily during 
the fifth century b.c.e. Demarete was the daughter 
of Theron (488-472 b.c.e.), who ruled Acragas 
located in southwest Sicily. After she married 
Gelon, he conquered Syracuse in 485 and made it 
his seat of power. 

An alliance between Demarete's father and hus- 
band defeated the invading Carthaginians under 
Hamilcar at Himera. The victory was celebrated 
throughout the Greek world. Her husband issued 
celebratory coins in gratitude to the gods. The large 
silver decadrachms called Demareteia depicted 
Demarete on the reverse. 

She and her husband were buried on her estate. 
A costly tomb, erected by the people, was destroyed 
by the Carthaginians in 396 b.c.e. 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 7 .153—66. 
Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 1 1.38.3-4. 
Hammond, N. G. L. A History of Greece. Oxford: Oxford 
University Press, 1967, p. 270. 

[a] Domitia 

(?— 59 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player 

Domitia was contentious, proud, and unforgiving. 
She was the eldest daughter of Antonia the Elder 
and the arrogant Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, 
consul in 16 b.c.e. Augustus was her great-uncle 
and her grandparents were Mark Antony and 
Octavia (2). She may have had two early mar- 
riages: to Decimus Haterius Agrippa, consul in 22 
c.e., and to Quintus Junius Blaesus, consul suffec- 

tus in 26 c.e. In a contentious suit against her 
brother, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, consul in 
32 c.e., she was defended by her third and last 
husband, the famous orator Gnaeus Passienus 
Crispus, consul in 44 c.e. 

Domitia and her sister, Domitia Lepida, had 
opposed the marriage of their brother and the 
younger Julia Agrippina. After her brother's death, 
Agrippina settled on Domitia's husband, Passienus 
Crispus, as a likely replacement. Dislike between 
the two women turned into enmity when Domitia 
and Crispus who divorced largely on account of 
Agrippina's interference. 

In 54 Domitia Lepida was put to death by Agrip- 
pina. A year later, Domitia joined with an enemy of 
Agrippina, Junia Silana, in a plot to turn Agrippi- 
na's son, the emperor Nero, against his mother. They 
planned to convince the emperor that his mother 
was conspiring with Rubellius Platus to supplant 
him. A freedman of Domitia, the actor Paris, carried 
the damning report about Agrippina to Nero. Nero 
ordered that his mother be killed. However, the pre- 
fect of the Praetorian Guard, Sextus Afranius Burrus, 
persuaded Nero that Agrippina be given a hearing. 
She managed to convince Nero of her innocence. 

Although Domitia succeeded in outliving 
Agrippina, Nero had her poisoned in 59 c.e., when 
she was more than 60 years old, so that he could 
acquire her property. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 62.17.1—2. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Nero 34.5. 

Tacitus. Annales 13.19-21. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, index. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 90. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[b] Domitia Lepida 

(?— 54 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player 

Domitia Lepida was the beautiful younger daugh- 
ter of Antonia the Elder and the arrogant Lucius 


Domitia Longina 

Domitius Ahenobarbus, consul in 16 b.c.e. Her 
lineage was of the highest order. Her grandmother 
was Octavia (2) and her great-uncle was Augus- 
tus. She inherited the traits of her fathers family — 
pride in ancestry, arrogance, ambition, and an 
implacable hatred for enemies — which shaped a 
lifetime of conflict in the most intimate circles of 
imperial power. She vied with her daughter, the 
strong-willed Valeria Messallina, and her sister- 
in-law, the younger Julia Agrippina, for influence 
over the emperor Claudius. 

Domitia Lepida, before she was 20 and some- 
time after the birth of Messallina, had been left a 
widow by Marcus Valerius Messalla Barbatus. Her 
second husband was Faustus Cornelius Sulla. They 
had a son, Faustus Sulla, consul in 52 c.e., and 
their marriage ended either by death or divorce. 

The marriage of the emperor Claudius and her 
daughter Messallina placed Domitia in the privi- 
leged position of mother-in-law to the emperor 
and subsequently as grandmother to Britannicus, 
the heir apparent. In 41 Claudius arranged a third 
marriage for his widowed or divorced mother-in- 
law with his friend Gaius Appius Junius Silanus, 
consul in 28 c.e. The marriage may well have 
aroused Messallina's fears. Silanus, a good friend 
of Claudius and now the husband of her powerful 
and manipulative mother, posed a clear threat to 
her dominant position of influence over the aging 
emperor. A year after the marriage, in 42, Silanus 
was charged with treason and executed. Messal- 
lina and Narcissus, one of Claudius's powerful 
freedmen secretaries, had orchestrated his 

The resulting estrangement between mother 
and daughter was never healed. Although Domitia 
hurried to Messallina's side when her daughter was 
accused of treason for enacting a marriage cere- 
mony with her lover, Gaius Silius, she simply 
advised her daughter to kill herself. Finally killed 
by one of the soldiers in 48 Domitia took her body 
for burial. 

Years before her daughter's death, Domitia Lep- 
ida and her sister, Domitia, had opposed the mar- 
riage of their brother with the younger Agrippina. 
After her brother's death in 39, the widowed Agrip- 

pina was herself exiled by her own brother, the 
emperor Gaius Caligula. During her exile, Domi- 
tia had cared for her nephew, the future emperor 
Nero. Agrippina was recalled by Claudius in 41. 
She never forgave Domitia for opposing her mar- 
riage and now further resented any influence she 
might have acquired over Nero. When Agrippina 
married Claudius, her dislike for Domitia was fur- 
ther exacerbated by Domitia's relationship with 
Britannicus, Claudius and Messallina's son. 

Agrippina, desirous of enhancing the position 
of her son Nero at the expense of Britannicus, and 
fearful that Domitia's influence with the elderly 
Claudius would favor Britannicus at the expense of 
Nero, arranged to have her old enemy found guilty 
of using magic and posing a threat to the peace in 
Italy by failing to curb the slaves on her estates in 
Calabria. She was put to death in 54 c.e. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Nero 6.3; 7.1. 

Tacitus. Annates 12.64—65- 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, index. 

Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 76. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 102. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[b] Domitia Longina 

(?-c. 140 c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Domitia Longina lived a long life and was success- 
ful at imperial intrigues, including murder. She 
was the daughter of a distinguished general, 
Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, whom the emperor 
Nero ordered to commit suicide in 66 c.e. She 
divorced her first husband, the patrician Lucius 
Aelius Lamia Aemilianus, at the insistence of the 
future emperor Domitian. She married Domitian 
in 70 c.e., and they had a son and a daughter, both 
of whom died. Domitian awarded her the title 
Augusta and divorced her. There were rumors that 


Domitia Lucilla 

Titus, the brother of Domitian, had been her lover. 
She appears to have taken as a lover the freedman 
actor Paris, who was the rage of Rome and a very 
desirable lover. Around 84, Domitian had Paris 
executed and remarried Domitia, claiming that it 
was the will of the people. 

Domitia feared that Domitian would kill her. 
She joined a conspiracy that murdered her hus- 
band in 96. Domitia lived another 40 years and 
died shortly before 140. A temple in her honor was 
built in Gabii with a donation of 10,000 sesterces 
by one of her freedmen on the condition that a cel- 
ebration would be held annually on her birthday. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 65.4; 67.3.1-2; 67.15.2. 
Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Domitian 1.3; 3.1; 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Titus 10.2; 67.15.2—4. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 131-132. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 103. 

Domitia Lucilla 

(?-155/161 c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Domitia Lucilla was a very rich woman at the cen- 
ter of a network of connected families that came to 
the fore under the emperor Trajan. According to 
her son, she was educated and also fluent in written 
Greek. She corresponded with Fronto, her son's 
teacher, and was a friend of his wife, Gratia, whom 
she invited in 143 c.e. to celebrate her birthday in 
Naples where she was staying with her son. 

She had only one husband, Marcus Annius Verus, 
whose father, also named Marcus Annius Verus, was 
consul in 126 c.e. They had two children: a daugh- 
ter, Annia Cornificia Faustina, and a son, Marcus 
Annius, born in 121. Marcus became the emperor 
Marcus Aurelius (161-180 c.e.) after he had been 
adopted by his aunt Annia Galeria, the elder Faus- 
tina and her husband, the emperor Antoninus Pius. 

Domitia Lucilla managed her own business 
affairs, especially after the death of her husband 
around 124. She had inherited her wealth from her 

mother, also named Domitia Lucilla, who had 
been adopted by her great-uncle Publius Calvius 
Tullus, consul in 109. The family's fortune had 
originated with her great-grandfather, Gnaeus 
Domitius Afer, an orator and businessman who 
had a large tile factory outside Rome. 

She remained on good terms with both her 
children and gave advice on family affairs. When 
her daughter Faustina married, she asked her son 
to give his sister as a dowry the inheritance left to 
him by his father, since he would have his grandfa- 
ther's fortune. Marcus agreed, noting that his sister 
should not be poorer than her husband. 

Domitia Lucilla evidently was an influential 
woman. The future emperor Marcus Didius Julia- 
nus was brought up in her house, and she helped 
to secure his appointment to the Board of Twenty, 
a court that decided cases of inheritance. He later 
became a wealthy senator, and then emperor for a 
brief period. Domitia Lucilla died between 155 
and 161 c.e. 


Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Didius Julianus 1.3-4. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 
(Marcus Aurelius) 1.3. 

Birley, Anthony Richard. Marcus Aurelius: Emperor of Rome. 
Boston: Little, Brown, 1966, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 152. 

[a] Domitia Paulina (I) 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Spain 
political player 

Domitia Paulina came from Cadiz in Spain; noth- 
ing is known of her parentage. She was the wife of 
Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer. They had a daugh- 
ter, Domitia Paulina (2), and a son who became 
the emperor Hadrian. Domitia Paulina died when 
Hadrian was 10 years old, and Hadrian became a 
ward of the future emperor Trajan. 


Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Hadrian 1.1—2. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 107. 



[a] Domitia Paulina (2) 

(?— 130 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player 

Domitia Paulina was the sister of the future 
emperor Hadrian and the daughter of Publius 
Aelius Hadrianus Afer and Domitia Paulina (i). 
She married Lucius Iulius Ursus Servianus, who 
was about 30 years her senior. Trajan considered 
her husband a possible successor. Her husband, 
consul in 102, sought to further his prospects at 
the expense of his brother-in-law Hadrian, whom 
he accused of extravagance and debt. This turned 
out to be a serious error of judgment, especially 
once his brother-in-law became emperor. 

When Paulina died in 130, Hadrian paid her 
no public honor. He also showed no favor to her 
grandson, Gnaeus Pedianus Fuscus, born to her 
daughter Julia. When he adopted Lucius Aelius as 
his successor, he had the already 90-year-old Servi- 
anus and his 18-year-old grandson Fuscus put to 
death for challenging the adoption. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 69.17.1—2. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Hadrian 1.1—2; 2.6; 15.8; 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 139. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 786-787. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 108. 

Capella, a Roman equestrian from Africa. When she 
married Vespasian, he was an army officer. She had 
two sons, Titus and Domitian, and a daughter, Fla- 
via Domitilla. Domitilla and her daughter both died 
before Vespasian became emperor in 69 c.e. Her 
sons, Titus and Domitian, succeeded their father. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Vespasian 3. 

[U Domitilla, Flavia (2) 

(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Italy and Pandateria 

political player, exiled 

Flavia Domitilla was the niece of the emperor 
Titus Flavius Domitian. She married Flavius Cle- 
mens, the emperor's cousin. They had two young 
sons whom Domitian favored as successors. Shortly 
after her husband's consulship in 95 c.e., the cou- 
ple was accused of denying the traditional gods in 
favor of Jewish or Christian rites. Her husband was 
executed, and she was exiled to Pandateria. Noth- 
ing more is heard of the children. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 67 .14.1— 3. 

Grant, Michael. The Jews in the Roman World. New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973, pp. 225-256. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 600. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 227. 

[a] Domitilla, Flavia (I) 

(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Italy and North Africa 

mother of two emperors 

Flavia Domitilla was born in Ferulium, Italy. Her 
father, Flavius Liberalis, was a scribe or law clerk in 
a praetor's court. He went before a board of arbi- 
tration and successfully gained for her full Roman 

Before she married the future emperor Vespasian, 
Domitilla had a de facto marriage with Statilius 

[b] Domnica 

(c. fourth century c.e.) 

Roman: Pannonia, Constantinople 


Domnica was in Constantinople on that fateful 
ninth of August in 378 when Valens, her husband 
and emperor, lost one of history's decisive battles 
and his life. Although the Eastern Roman Empire 
never fully recovered from the defeat at Adriano- 
ple, Domnica kept the victorious Goths from 
invading Constantinople. With the city under 



siege, Domnica withdrew from the treasury the 
money allocated for the army and distributed it 
among residents willing to defend the walls. She 
became the spirit of the city as the defenders piled 
rocks into huge barricades and mounted rock- 
throwing artillery on the perimeter walls. Relief 
finally came with Theodosius in the winter of 379 
after Gratian, the emperor in the West, appointed 
him the new emperor of the East. 

Domnica had exercised influence on her hus- 
band Valens throughout his reign. Appointed 
emperor in the East in 364 by his brother Valen- 
tinian I, Valens was never considered a skilled sol- 
dier. However, Domnica's father, Petronius, who 
Valens raised to the rank of patrician, was a mili- 
tary man who commanded the Martensian legion, 
named after the Babylonians who filled its ranks. 
According to sources he was also considered ugly 
in spirit and appearance and was extraordinarily 
avaricious, but loyal. 

Domnica had already given birth to three chil- 
dren, Dominica, Anastasia, and Galates, by the 
time her husband became emperor. It was probably 
she who saw to the education of her children and 
also convinced Valens to be baptized an Arian 
Christian. His faith, which was apparently sincere, 
was tested while visiting Caesarea in 369 or 370, 
when their young son Galates fell critically ill. 
Valens summoned Basil, the bishop of Caesaria, to 
pray for his son's survival. Basil, an orthodox Chris- 
tian, demanded that Valens renounce his Arian 
views. The emperor refused, and the boy died 
shortly after being baptized an Arian Christian. 

Nothing more is known of Domnica. 


Ammiamus Marcellinus. XXXI. 15, 1-12. 
Socrates. Historia Ecclesiastical, 1.3. 
Sozimus. Historia EcclesiasticaVll, 1. 2. 
Theodoret. Historia Ecclesiastica IV, 12. 3-4; 19. 8-9. 

[a] Doris 

(fifth-fourth century b.c.e.) Greek: Syracuse 
political player 

Doris married Dionysius I, the tyrant of Syracuse, 
in Sicily (c. 430-367 b.c.e.). She was the daughter 
of Xenetus, from the leading family of Locri in 


Greece. On the same day that she married Diony- 
sius, he also married Aristomache, who came 
from Syracuse. Gossip circulated that Doris's 
mother gave Aristomache potions to prevent preg- 
nancy and that Aristomache only became pregnant 
after Dionysius had Doris's mother killed. 

Dionysius was said to have been devoted to his 
wives. He dined with them both and slept with 
each in turn. It was also said that Dionysius was so 
fearful of the women that he had each wife searched 
before going to bed with her. 

Despite the great support for Aristomache among 
the people of Syracuse, on Dionysius's death, Doris's 
son Dionysius II succeeded his father. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 16.6. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae: Dion 6.3. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 
libri 1X9.13.4. 

(D Drusilla (I) 

(39 c.e.-?) Roman: Mauritania and Judaea 
political wife 

Drusilla was the granddaughter of Cleopatra VII 
and Mark Antony, the daughter of Cleopatra 
Selene and Juba II, who ruled the Roman client 
state of Mauritania in North Africa. Born in 39 c. 
e., she married Marcus Antonius Felix, a freedman 
of the younger Antonia. Her husband was 
appointed procurator of Judaea sometime after 52. 
After her death her husband married Drusilla 
(2), the daughter of Agrippa I, king of Judaea. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 20.7.2. 

Tacitus. Historiae 5.9. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 2. 
Perowne, Stewart. The Later Herods, p. 59. 

Jewish: Judaea and Rome 

(D Drusilla (2) 

(first century c.e. 
political player 

Drusilla competed with her older sister, Berenice 
(2), for influence, wealth, and power. A member of 


a great Jewish dynasty, she was the daughter of 
Cypros and Agrippa I, king of Judaea (41-44 c.E.), 
and the granddaughter of Mariamme and Herod 
the Great. Her brother, Agrippa II, ruled the terri- 
tories north of Judaea and often was the focus of 
the sisters' conflict, especially after the twice-wid- 
owed Berenice went to live with him. 

Drusilla married Azizus, ruler of Emesa, after he 
agreed to be circumcised and follow the Jewish faith. 
She left her husband to become the second wife of 
Marcus Antonius Felix, a freedman of the younger 
Antonia. Felix had been appointed procurator of 
Judaea by the emperor Claudius in 52 c.e. He 
remained procurator for eight years, and toward the 
end of his tenure, he presided over the preliminary 
hearing of Paul on charges of creating disturbances 
and profaning the Jewish Temple. Felix sought 
Drusilla's advice. Both listened to Paul testify. 

Drusilla left Judaea for Rome with Felix at the 
end of his procuratorship and did not return. Felix's 
brother Pallas, an ally of the younger Agrippina, 
was Claudius's financial secretary and was among 
the richest, most powerful men in Rome. Drusilla 
used her influence to shield Felix when Pallas fell 
from power in Rome after the death of Agrippina. 

Drusilla gave birth to a son named Antonius 
Agrippa, who died during the eruption of Vesuvius 
in 79. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judakae (Jewish Antiquities) 19.354— 

55; 20.139, 141. 
Tacitus. Historiae 5.9. 
Grant, Michael. The Jews in the Roman World. New York: 

Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973, index. 
Perowne, Stewart. The Later Herods, index. 


(fourth century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Persian: Persia 

Drypetis was one of the daughters of Darius III, 
ruler of Persia, who was defeated by Alexander the 
Great. She was among some 80 women of the Per- 
sian aristocracy married to Macedonian officers of 
Alexander's army at Susa in 324 b.c.e. Drypetis 
married Hephaestion, Alexander's childhood friend 

and closest companion, while Alexander married 
her sister Barsine (2). 

After the deaths of Hephaestion later that year 
and Alexander in 323 b.c.e. Drypetis and her sis- 
ter were murdered by Roxane, the wife of Alex- 
ander, to eliminate any rivals to Roxane's infant 


Arrian. Anabasis oj Alexander 7.4. 

Diodorus Siculus. Library oj History 17.6. 

Burn, Andrew Robert. Alexander the Great and the Helle- 
nistic World. London: English Universities Press, 1964, 
p. 182. 

[b] Duronia 

(second century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
accomplice to embezzlement 

Duronia was infatuated with her second husband, 
Titus Sempronius Rutilus, and abetted him in 
fraud. Rutilus was guardian for the estate of Pub- 
lius Aebutius, Duronia's son by her first husband. 
He had misused the funds, and her son was about 
to come of age. 

Duronia set about discrediting Aebutius so as to 
prolong Rutilus's guardianship and thereby avoid 
an accounting of the estate. She told her son that 
some while ago when he was seriously ill, she had 
taken a vow that if he recovered she would have 
him initiated into the rites of the Bacchae. In 186 
b.c.e. Romans feared the Bacchic rites, which were 
secret, restricted to the young and virile, and gen- 
erally regarded as licentious, even dangerous to the 
well-being of the state. Aebutius's initiation into 
the cult may well have been judged as leaving him 
unfit to assume responsibility over his own estate. 

Aebutius, who appears to have been a some- 
what naive young man, told his freedwoman lover 
Hispala Faecenia of his mother's vow. Before His- 
pala had gained her freedom, she had accompanied 
her mistress to the rites and knew the ceremonies 
to be not only licentious or dangerous but also vio- 
lent. She convinced Aebutius to refuse his mother's 
request. Together they went to Aebutius's aunt, 
who in turn went to the consul. Aided by the testi- 
mony of Hispala Faecenia to the consul Postumius, 



a scandal with serious political implications was Sources 

uncovered, and a number of people were executed. Livy. From the Founding of the City 39.9.2-12. 

Exactly what happened to Duronia and her second Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

husband, however, remains unknown. Comp., 1963, pp. 37-41. 




[b] Egeria 

(c. fourth-early fifth century c.E.) 

Roman: Spain, Gaul 

traveler, devout Christian pilgrim, writer 

Egeria spent more than three years visiting biblical 
sites. She was intrepid. Her journal of the trip is 
largely extant, except for the opening sections, but 
provides no personal information or reasons for her 
trip. She was sufficiently well off not to have 
appeared concerned about money. She knew no 
Greek and her written Latin had errors in cases and 
tenses typical of provincial dialects. She probably 
came from Spain or possibly Gaul. Egerias trip 
began in the 380s, although her journal was written 
after 394. Using evidence from her journal, her 
home has been attributed to places that range from 
Aries to close to Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. 
Egeria traveled to the Christian holy sites in 
search of information and to experience them first- 
hand. Unlike many religious women of the period, 
she never intended to settle in Palestine. However, 
she was a devout woman. Possibly, she was part of 
a formal women's community or a less institution- 
alized circle of devout Christian women. Whatever 
the exact character of her home community, her 
descriptions suggest that her information and 
experiences were meant to be shared. She appears 
to have been the community's eyes and ears and 

her journal relayed to them a living sense of the 
places where great events happened in the Old and 
New Testaments. 

Visiting the Holy sites was increasingly popular 
for Christians, even during these centuries of polit- 
ical uncertainty and economic problems. Travelers 
from across the empire frequently converged at the 
same place. Egeria appears to have traveled alone, 
although, in a manner reminiscent of the pilgrims 
en route to Canterbury in a later period, she joined 
guided groups to many of the sites. She also joined 
groups to traverse significant distances, with or 
without the support of a contingent of soldiers to 
keep them safe. Most often, donkeys were available 
or camels in the desert, but mountains often had 
narrow hardscrabble paths that had to be climbed 
on foot. Egeria climbed Mount Sinai and traced 
the route of the Israelites from Egypt to the Red 
Sea, which included a four-day trip across the des- 
ert. She also climbed Mount Nebo where Moses 
supposedly died. She was always welcomed by the 
clergy and monks who lived at or near places she 
visited and who often guided her to sites that were 
difficult to reach. 

Egerias knowledge of biblical events came from 
sources that predated Jerome's translation of the 
bible into Latin when he was in Palestine at the 
monastery built by Paula and Eustochium. She 


Egnatia Maximilla 

used Jerome's earlier translation from Greek to 
Latin of the Onomasticon by the church historian 
Eusebius, as a road map for her journey. This book 
linked events in both the Old and New Testa- 
ments, along with geographical descriptions, loca- 
tions of the actual sites, the proper names of cities 
and villages, roads, mountains, deserts, and the 
people who inhabited the area. 

In Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Egeria not only 
visited the sacred places mentioned in the Gos- 
pels, but devoted some 25 chapters in her journal 
to the ordinary and special liturgical rites that 
formed the annual calendar practiced in Jerusa- 
lem. She described the churches in which the ritu- 
als took place, the people who participated, the 
times of day for the various rites, and the special 
prayers for days of feasting and fasting. Also, she 
paid particular attention to rites which took place 
in Bethlehem. 

Her route home was through Constantinople 
where she made a side trip to visit the holy monks 
and the tomb of the Apostle Saint Thomas in 
Edessa, Mesopotamia. 

This journey took 25 days. From Antioch, she 
crossed the Euphrates, which she compared with 
the fierce current of the Rhone, but much larger. 
She visited the various shrines of martyrs and some 
of the numerous anchorite cells occupied by reclu- 
sive ascetics. She went to Carrhae, where Abraham 
had lived. She arrived on a saint's feast day and 
wrote that she was able to speak to anchorite ascet- 
ics who descended on the city and vanished when 
the celebration was over. 

After returning to Antioch, she left for Selucia 
in what is now southern Turkey to visit the shrine 
of Saint Thecla. There she visited the deaconess 
Marthana, whom she had met while the latter was 
visiting Jerusalem, and who led a group of ascetic 
women living near the shrine. She then resumed 
her journey to Constantinople. 

She ended this part of the chronicle with the 
information that she was going to make a final 
excursion to Ephesus to visit the shrine of Saint 
John. Her audience would hear from her in letters 
or in person if she returned alive. She asked them 
to remember her. Nothing more is known. 


Egeria. Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage. Translated and anno- 
tated by George E. Gingras. New York: The Newman 
Press, 1970. 

Sivan, Hagith. "Who Was Egeria? Piety and Pilgrimage in 
the Age of Gratian." The Harvard Theological Review, 
vol. 81,1 (January 1988): 59-72. 

. "Holy Land Pilgrimage and Western Audiences: 

Some Reflections on Egeria and Her Circle." Classical 
Quarterly 38(h): 528-535. 

Weber, Clifford. "Egeria's Norman Homeland." Harvard 
Studies in Classical Philology, 92 (1989): 437-456. 

[b] Egnatia Maximilla 

(first century C.E.) Roman: Rome 
loyal wife 

Egnatia Maximilla, the wealthy wife of Glitius Cal- 
lus, accompanied her husband into exile after he 
was implicated in a failed conspiracy to assassinate 
the emperor Nero. She and her husband settled on 
the island of Andros in the Aegean Sea. An inscrip- 
tion found on the island indicates that they were 
held in high esteem by the island community despite 
the fact that her wealth had been confiscated. 


Tacitus. Annales 15-71. 

[b] Elpinice 

(c. 510? b.c.e.-) Greek: Athens 
well-known Athenian 

Elpinice was born around 510 b.c.e. Her father 
was Miltiades, the Athenian politician and general 
responsible for the great Greek victory over the 
Persians at Marathon in 490. Her mother, Hegesi- 
pyle, was the daughter of Olorus, ruler of Thrace. 
Shortly after Marathon, her father led the naval 
forces in an unsuccessful attack on the island of 
Paros. Seriously wounded and too ill to testify on 
his own behalf, he was fined 50 talents in a trial 
prompted by political rivals after his defeat. He 
died in prison in 489 b.c.e. with the fine unpaid. 
The family was left in poverty. Without a dowry, 
Elpinice had no choice but to live with her brother, 
Cimon, a leader in Athenian politics and also a 
renowned general. His political rivals linked their 



names in scandalous gossip that was only height- 
ened by her beauty. It was rumored that the painter 
Polygnotus, a friend of her brother, used her face 
for the portrait of Laodice in his painting of the 
Trojan women. In time, her brother paid off his 
father's fine, and Elpinice married one of Athens's 
wealthiest men, Callias, who waived a dowry for 
an alliance with the illustrious Phileidae. 

Elpinice remained very much a visible woman 
after her marriage. Twice she lobbied Pericles. In 
463, she sought to protect her brother after he was 
charged with taking bribes from Alexander I. After 
Pericles defeated the Samians, she upbraided him 
for spending Greek lives against Greek allies and 
not, like her brother, against a foreign foe. 

Elpinice and Callias may have divorced. They 
had one son, Hipponicus. On his father's death, 
Hipponicus inherited his estate and became the 
richest man in Greece. 


Nepos. Cimon 1.2. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cimon 4.1, 3, 
5-7; 14.4. 

Davies, J. K. Athenian Propertied Families, 600—300 B.C. 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, pp. 302-303. 

Walters, K. R. "Women and Power in Classical Athens." In 
Woman's Power, Man's Game: Essays on Classical Antiquity 
in Honor of Joy K. King, ed. by Mary DeForest. Wauco- 
nda, 111.: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1993, pp. 194-214. 


(? B.C.E./C.E.-38 C.E. 

political player 

Roman: Rome 

Ennia Thrasylla was the granddaughter of Tiberius 
Claudius Thrasyllus, a famous astrologer from Alex- 
andria. Her grandfather gained Roman citizenship 
from the emperor Tiberius, whom he had originally 
met on the island of Rhodes. When Tiberius retired 
to Capri, Thrasyllus followed. Ennia married Quin- 
tus Naevius Cordus Suetonius Macro, prefect of 
the vigiles, the large fire and police force stationed 
in Rome. Tiberius used Macro to capture Lucius 
Aelius Sejanus, the former prefect of the Praetorian 
Guard, whom Tiberius had come to suspect of 
treacherous designs. 

Macro then became prefect of the Praetorian 
Guard. He was close to Gaius Caligula, Tiberius's 
most likely successor. Macro and Ennia worked as 
a husband-and-wife team to assure their future 
position. It was rumored that Ennia seduced the 
young Caligula after the death of the latter's wife, 
Junia Claudilla, and even promised him mar- 
riage as part of a plan to expand her and her hus- 
band's sphere of influence. Alternatively, Caligula 
might have seduced Ennia in order to secure her 
husband's support and may even have agreed in 
writing to marry her if he became emperor. 

Caligula appointed Macro prefect of Egypt. In 
38 c.e. Caligula rid himself of the powerful couple 
by forcing them to commit suicide. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 12; 26. 
Tacitus. Annales 6.45. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, pp. 174, 215. 

(?-65 c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Epicharis was an imperial freedwoman who partic- 
ipated in a failed conspiracy to kill the emperor 
Nero in 65 c.e. Impatient at delays by the assas- 
sins, she approached Volusius Proculus, one of the 
men used by Nero to kill his mother, the younger 
Agrippina. Although Proculus had been made an 
officer of the fleet, he was known to be dissatisfied 
with the emperor's reward. Epicharis solicited his 
participation in the plot without revealing the 
names of her coconspirators. 

Proculus reported his conversation with Epich- 
aris to Nero. She denied any wrongdoing, and 
there was no apparent corroborating evidence. 
Nero ordered her taken into custody. Soon, how- 
ever, several of the conspirators confessed and 
began to implicate others. Nero ordered Epicharis 
tortured. She refused to speak. On the second day, 
no longer able to stand, she was dragged in a chair 
before her inquisitors. She managed to strip the 
strap band from her chest and put it around her 
neck, and then tipped the chair and killed herself. 



She is remembered for her courage in keeping 
silent when well-born men were betraying those 
close to them. 


Tacitus. Annates 15.51, 57. 

After his defeat by the Romans, he retreated to 
Ephesus with Euboea. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 10.439e, f. 
Polybius. Histories 20.8. 


(fourth century b.c.e. 

Greek: Telos 

Erinna was an esteemed poet who lived on the 
Greek island of Telos, off the coast of western Asia 
Minor. She wrote about her personal life and feel- 
ings. Her most famous poem, "Distaff," consisted 
of 300 hexameters. It was written before she was 
19 years old. Only a few fragments have survived. 
They movingly relate childhood experiences with 
her friend Baucis and lament Baucis's death shortly 
after her marriage. She also wrote two funeral epi- 
grams to Baucis. 

Erinna died young and never married. 


Fantham, Elaine, et al. Women in the Classical World. New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 164-165. 

Gow, Andrew S. F„ and Denys L. Page. The Greek Anthol- 
ogy: Hellenistic Epigrams. 2 vols. Cambridge, England: 
Cambridge University Press, 1965, pp. 281 ff. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 556. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, pp. 137-139. 

[b] Euboea 

(third-second century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Euboea 
political player 

Euboea, the daughter of Cleoptolemus of Chalcis, 
located on the island of Euboea off the coast of 
Greece, was well born and beautiful. In 192-191 
b.c.e. Antiochus III the Great of Syria occupied 
the island prior to invading Greece. Euboea 
charmed him. At the age of 50, he married her and 
spent the whole of the winter with her in Chalcis. 


[b] Eudocia 

(438/439^71/472 c.e.) 
Roman: Italy, Carthage 
political player 

Eudocia, the eldest daughter of the Augusta 
Licinia Eudoxia and Valentinian III, emperor in 
the West, was only four or five years old when she 
was betrothed to Huneric, the son of Gaiseric, 
ruler of the Vandals. Although Roman marriage 
law forbade a legal marriage contract between a 
Roman and a non-Roman, the betrothal was 
spurred by the Vandal threat to invade Italy. The 
invasion was averted. 

When Eudocias father was assassinated in 455, 
Petronius Maximus became Roman emperor in 
the West. He forced her mother Eudoxia to marry 
him. He also insisted that Eudocia should marry 
his son, Palladius, who he appointed Caesar. Her 
mother hated Maximus and was rumored to have 
asked the Vandal ruler Gaiseric for help. 

Less than three months later, in June 455, the 
Vandals led by Gaiseric captured Rome and sacked 
the city. Gaiseric took Eudocia, her mother, and her 
younger sister, Placidia, back to Carthage, along 
with a great deal of gold and numerous slaves. In 
456, Eudocia married Gaiserics son Huneric, to 
whom she had earlier been betrothed. Within a few 
years, and at the request of Leo I, emperor in the 
East, her mother and sister were sent to Constanti- 
nople. Eudocia, however, remained in Carthage, 
perhaps involuntarily, and Gaiseric may have 
received some part of Eudocias dowry paid by Leo 
to facilitate her mother and sister s return. 

Eudocia was Huneric's second wife. Sometime 
between their earlier betrothal and marriage in 
456, Huneric had married another woman. How- 
ever, when Eudocia arrived in Carthage, Gaiseric 
accused the woman of trying to kill him, ended the 
marriage, and sent the woman back to her family. 

Eudocia, Aelia 

Eudocia remain in Carthage for 16 years and gave 
birth to a son, Hilderic, who later ruled the Van- 
dals. In 471 or 472, Eudocia went to Jerusalem 
and died shortly thereafter. 

Some six years later, in 478, ambassadors return- 
ing to Constantinople from Carthage reported that 
Eudocias son Hilderic admired the Romans and had 
allowed the orthodox Church at Carthage to ordain 
a bishop, despite his staunch adherence to Arian 
Christianity. Hilderic wanted Leo to know, further- 
more, that he no longer made any claim for his 
mothers wealth under the original betrothal agree- 
ment or through her line of descent for inheritance. 


Procopius. Vandelic War III. v. 3—7. 

Theophanes. Chronicle KM 5947, 5949, 5957, 5964. 

Bury, J. B. History of the Later Roman Empire from the 
Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian. Vol. 1 . 
New York: Dover Publications, 1958. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 407-408. 

[b] Eudocia, Aelia (Athenais) 
(c. 400-October 20, 460 c.e. 
Greek: Athens, Antioch, Constantinople, 


Aelia Eudocia, a resolute and educated woman, 
married the emperor Theodosius II and engaged in 
the politics of religion, wealth, and power. She suc- 
ceeded in living life on her own terms, even as she 
and the formidable Pulcheria vied for dominion 
over the interpretation of Christian doctrine and 
influence over the emperor. Her final years mark 
the best that the early centuries of Christianity 
offered women of position, independent authority, 
and wealth. She died honored and revered. 

Athenais was born in either Antioch or Athens, 
the daughter of Leontius, a prominent sophist and 
teacher of rhetoric, and a woman about whom we 
only know that she was Roman. Her father, a 
pagan at a time when Christianity was spreading 
rapidly, provided her with a classical education 

from which she developed a lifelong passion for 
reading and writing poetry. At some point in her 
youth she moved to Constantinople and lived with 
her maternal uncle, Asclepiodotus, a minor gov- 
ernment official, and his wife. It was through them 
that she met her future husband. 

On June 7, 421, she married Theodosius II. She 
and her husband were both about 20 years old. 
Shortly before her marriage, she had been baptized 
by the bishop of Constantinople and took the 
name of Aelia Eudocia, which allied her to the 
Theodosian women of the imperial line. 

With marriage Eudocia gained an empire. The 
studious and mild-mannered Theodosius may also 
have been personally more appealing than has been 
generally thought, especially in view of the vio- 
lence which often dominated women's sexual expe- 
rience. The emperor gained a beautiful wife who 
was well educated and loved literature. Theodo- 
sius, shy with women with the exception of his sis- 
ters, may have found her pagan education and 
literary interests a stimulating contrast to a focused 
diet of Christian virtue, modesty, and doctrinal 
controversies. Also, his powerful and overbearing 
sister, Pulcheria, approved the union. 

Some 100 years later, John Malalas, a Syrian 
from Antioch who lived between 480 and 570, 
composed a chronology of world history with a 
romanticized version of the courtship between 
Eudocia and Theodosius. According to Malalas, 
Eudocias father had died and left a large estate to 
his two sons, who refused to provide for their sis- 
ter. She went to live with her aunt, who introduced 
her to Pulcheria. Taken with Eudocias intelligence 
and beauty, Pulcheria informed her brother that 
she had found the perfect woman for him to marry. 
Theodosius and his boyhood friend Paulinus 
invited her to the palace, where they remained 
concealed behind a curtain. Immediately upon 
seeing her, Theodosius decided she would become 
his wife. 

Malalas incorporated many classic tropes of 
ancient literature, some of which, such as hiding 
behind the curtain, extended into Shakespeare's 
times and beyond. A more calculating historical 
assessment has focused on the role of Pulcheria. 


Eudocia, Aelia 

From the beginning, the relationship between the 
sisters-in-law bore directly on the affairs of church 
and state. Eudocia, whose conversion has always 
been assumed perfectly sincere, was far more toler- 
ant of diverse points of view and behavior among 
Christians than was Pulcheria. Although they had 
different interpretations of Christianity, Pulcheria 
may well have been comfortable that her position 
would dominate. Eudocias modest family with its 
pagan background may have further forestalled 
any misgivings that Eudocia would become a com- 
peting power in politics or religion. Another and 
less-often-examined possibility might focus on 
Eudocias own calculated aggressiveness in wooing 
the emperor. She was adept at securing her own 
ends and meeting all expectations. A year after her 
marriage in 422, Eudocia gave birth to a daughter, 
Licinia Eudoxia. On January 2, 423, Eudocia 
became Augusta. Coins were issued with her 

For the first time, two women of the same gen- 
eration who were associated with the same emperor 
held the title of Augusta. During this period, con- 
flict was minimized since Pulcheria spent most of 

Aelia Eudocia 

(Date: 408 C.E.-450 C.E. 1967.153.187, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 

her time in her own establishments on the out- 
skirts of the city. Not unexpectedly, Eudocia used 
her position to attend to the well-being of her fam- 
ily. Her uncle and brothers were appointed to 
important positions in the government. Asclepi- 
odotus became Praetorian Prefect of the East and 
consul for 423. One brother Gesius became gover- 
nor of Illyricum and another Valerius became the 
governor of Thrace, consul for 432, and Master of 
Offices in 435. 

Doubtless, Eudocia supported her husband in 
his efforts to improve education by reorganizing 
and strengthening the schools of literature and 
rhetoric in Constantinople. In religious matters, 
orthodoxy prevailed, but Eudocia and her uncle 
had a hand in sponsoring measures that, at least 
temporarily, ended the persecution of Jews and 
pagans. Earlier, Theodosius I had issued edicts 
penalizing Christian heretics, pagans, and Jews so 
severely that most pagans converted to Christian- 
ity, at least nominally. In contrast, Theodosius II 
proclaimed that Christians were not to use vio- 
lence against Jews and pagans if they lived quietly 
and created no disorder. Moreover, the penalties 
for violations were severe. Those who attacked 
Jews or pagans and their property were subject to 
triple or quadruple damages and government offi- 
cials up to the office of governor would suffer the 
same penalties if they failed to effect a policy of tol- 
eration. Between 422 and 423, the edict was under 
the authority of Eudocias uncle, Asclepiodotus. 
However, a letter from St. Simeon the Stylite, 
whose holiness carried great weight, threatened 
Theodosius with divine punishment unless he 
ended tolerance. Asclepiodotus was removed from 
his position. 

Perhaps it was inevitable that Eudocias more 
tolerant Christianity would conflict with Pulche- 
ria's uncompromising views. Possibly it was not 
religion at all, but too little space in the emotional 
vortex of the imperial family for each woman's 
sphere of influence to find sufficient room. The 
first public conflict between the two was over the 
bishop Nestorius, who should have united, not 
divided, them. In 428, Nestorius, who had a repu- 
tation for rhetoric and learning, was appointed 


Eudocia, Aelia 

bishop of Constantinople with the imperial stamp 
of approval. It soon became apparent that he was 
opinionated, tactless, lacked political skills, and 
offended key laypeople as well as some prominent 
clergy and monks. He also alienated women, rich 
and poor, by refusing to allow them to participate 
in evening services since their comings and going 
in the city after dark might result in opportunities 
for promiscuity. In 431, Eudocia allied herself with 
her husband and firmly supported Nestorius. Since 
it is unlikely that she supported Nestorius's views, 
she probably seized the opportunity to join Theo- 
dosius in one of the few instances in which he dis- 
agreed with his sister. Whether she sought to drive 
a wedge between them or to make a statement of 
her public political power (possibly both or nei- 
ther), it was a public fight that stretched across the 

The conflict reached a crisis when Anastasius, 
chaplain to Nestorius, delivered a sermon in the 
Great Church in which he referred to Mary as Chris- 
totokos (Mother of Christ) instead of Theotokos 
(Mother of God) . The distinction was far from arcane. 
Christian doctrine was still in flux, and a contentious 
issue was the relationship between the human and 
divine within Christ. Mary as Theotokos, Mother of 
God, rather than Christotokos, Mother of the human 
Christ, was enormously popular among the people 
and many of the clergy. Through Mary as the Mother 
of God, women could stand with the disciples at the 
very core of Christian doctrine, since a woman had 
borne, not a human named Jesus, but the divine Jesus 
son of God. All women who chose virginity gained 
from Mary Theotokos, a refracted holiness that erased 
the curse of Eve, which men claimed made women 
responsible for the loss of Eden. 

Mary Theotokos opened the door for women to 
claim full participation in the church. Pulcheria, 
who at 13 or 14 years old, had pledged her virgin- 
ity, staked her power on her holiness and her right 
to participate in the church. She had a strong ally 
in Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria. Insofar as the 
religious and political were coextensive, the bish- 
ops were the world court of the time. It was, none- 
theless, a case of politics and strange bedfellows. 
Eudocias sympathies might have reasonably led 

her to oppose Nestorius; Cyril ought to have been 
a supporter. He was an unscrupulous man who 
manipulated the Alexandrians for his own political 
gain. It was he who excited the mob to burn the 
great library and museum of Alexandria with its 
more than 800,000 papyrus rolls. The same mob 
killed the philosopher Hypatia, who was the first 
woman and last head of the most prestigious cen- 
ter of learning in the entire Mediterranean. 

Nestorius suffered less from the kind of unscru- 
pulousness that characterized Cyril than from an 
unbounded misogyny, which was always a particu- 
lar danger to women in the formative centuries of 
Christian doctrine. His misogyny led him into a 
confrontation with Pulcheria when he refused to 
honor her as the bride of Christ in his prayers for 
the imperial household as his predecessors had 
done. When, as was her custom, she arrived at the 
Great Church of Constantinople to take commu- 
nion with her brother and the participating priests, 
Nestorius refused her entry. He rejected her claim 
that since a woman had borne Jesus son of God, 
she, through her vow of virginity, had risen above 
the sin of Eve. Instead, he told her that as a woman 
she only had given birth to Satan. 

The conflict over Nestorius gave Cyril an oppor- 
tunity to raise the status of Alexandria over Con- 
stantinople, one of his long-term political objectives. 
He sent to Theodosius, Eudocia, Pulcheria, and her 
two sisters, Arcadia and Marina, sets of docu- 
ments, ostensibly to prove with historical evidence 
that Mary was the Mother of God. He also implied 
that Nestorius's views were heretical. Somewhat 
inaccurately, he attributed to Nestorius the doctrine 
that the human and divine natures in Christ were 
separate and not conjoined. 

The emperor authorized a council at Ephesus in 
Asia Minor in 431. The supporters of Cyril and 
Memnon, who was the bishop of Ephesus, intim- 
idated the opposition. Cyril gave lavish bribes 
and sent Marcella and Droseria, two women 
close to Eudocia, 2,250 pounds of gold each, in 
hopes they might influence the Augusta. Cyril and 
Memnon succeeded in discrediting Nestorius. In 
response, a smaller group held a separate council 
that upheld Nestorius and deposed Cyril and 


Eudocia, Aelia 

Memnon. However, Cyril and Memnon, who had 
popular support, were reinstated. Nestorius, tired 
of the controversy, asked the emperor to be sent 
back to his old monastery near Antioch. An angry 
emperor gave up the fight. Pulcheria was acclaimed 
by the people while Eudocia and Theodosius were 
the losers. 

Eudocia had another child, Flacilla, who died at 
an early age in 431. In the fall of 437, Eudocias 
daughter, Licinia Eudoxia, married the Roman 
emperor of the West, Valentinian III, in Constan- 
tinople. At about this time, Eudocia met the 
renowned younger Melania, who had arrived 
from Jerusalem where she and Eudocia had previ- 
ously met. It was a crucial meeting for Eudocia, 
who was apparently ready for a change in life. Her 
daughter lived in Ravenna, the administrative cap- 
ital of Italy. Her sister-in-law, Pulcheria, was a 
source of tension, and possibly, her marital rela- 
tionship was no longer interesting or the emperor 
attentive. Eudocia looked to other pursuits. With 
Melania's help, she convinced her husband to allow 
her to make a pilgrimage to Palestine. 

On her way to Jerusalem in February or March 
438, she stopped at Antioch, which may have been 
the city of her birth. She won acclaim with a speech 
before the local council that ended with an allusion 
to a Homeric line that boasted a shared heredity of 
race and blood. In Jerusalem, she spent time with 
Melania, visited holy places, and prayed at the 
empty tomb of Christ. When she returned to Con- 
stantinople early in 439, she brought the bones of 
Saint Stephen and was greeted in a public celebra- 
tion by her husband and the people of the city. 

Bringing back saintly relics from Palestine 
enhanced her public position. She and Pulcheria 
were viewed as sisters in power as well as in law. 
Cyrus, Prefect of the City, whose poems Eudocia 
admired, became Prefect of the East, undoubtedly 
her doing. The emperor, at her behest, extended 
the walls of Antioch and erected a new basilica. In 
the succeeding years, however, conflict between 
Eudocia and Pulcheria seems to have easily ignited, 
although they both appeared to respect a set of 
boundaries: Neither exercised complete domina- 
tion over the weak emperor. His passivity may 

have allowed them each to go her own way; he 
largely ignored them and they him. 

A third person successfully entered the hereto- 
fore closed circle, however, and altered the existing 
dynamics. An imperial eunuch, Chrysaphius, 
encouraged discord between the women. In 441, 
he aroused Eudocias anger by harping on the pres- 
ence of a chamberlain in Pulcheria's household and 
absent from hers. Theodosius refused Eudocia 
when she requested that he assign her a chamber- 
lain. Chrysaphius urged Eudocia to press Theodo- 
sius that Pulcheria withdraw from public life and 
become a deaconess, since she was a virgin and an 
ascetic. The emperor acquiesced, perhaps thinking 
it would diminish his sister's influence or perhaps 
desiring not to become involved in any dispute 
between these two high-powered women. Possibly, 
he was clever enough to gauge Pulcheria's reaction. 
Proclus, the bishop of Constantinople and Pulche- 
ria's friend, reminded her that as a deaconess she 
would be a member of the clergy and subject to 
the authority of the bishop. Pulcheria was skilled 
at picking her battles and withdrawing from the 
fray when she thought it prudent. She was also 
uninterested in the bishop exercising authority 
over her. She withdrew to her own establishment 
in Hebdomon. She also turned her chamberlain 
over to Eudocia. 

Chrysaphius conspired to eliminate Eudocia. 
John Malalas, writing some 100 years later, related 
the events in a tale that mixed biblical and classical 
motifs of treason and adultery. According to the 
account, Theodosius gave his wife the gift of a rare 
large apple, which in the ancient world was the 
fruit of desire and carnal love. She in turn gave it 
to Paulinus, a favorite of hers and a childhood 
friend of the emperor, who had injured his foot. 
He in turn presented it to Theodosius. When the 
latter asked Eudocia what she had done with the 
apple, she replied that she had eaten it. The arche- 
typal elements of the tale — the apple, the woman, 
and sexual desire — make it suspect. The further 
suggestion of impropriety or adultery between 
Paulinus and Eudocia echoes stories of the Julio- 
Claudian women, who were accused of adultery 
when the men around them were accused of trea- 


Eudocia, Aelia 

son. That Eudocia was guilty of adultery or trea- 
son, however, seems unlikely. The only ancient 
corroboration of Malalas's story comes from Nesto- 
rius, writing from afar and years later in 451, 
which has all the characteristics of a similarly 
unfounded accusation of adultery against Pulche- 
ria and Paulinus. 

What is certain is that relations between Eudo- 
cia and Theodosius had deteriorated. Eudocia may 
have welcomed time and distance away from him 
and his sisters. She planned another trip to the 
Holy Land. The palace issued a statement that 
Eudocia was embarking on a pilgrimage to Pales- 
tine. She left with all her imperial honors in place, 
including the scepter, a symbol of her public power. 
She also had her immense fortune, a large retinue 
of servants and retainers, and two close religious 
confidants, John the Deacon and Severus a priest. 
After she left, Theodosius lashed out at the people 
she left behind. 

Sometime between 440 and 443, Theodosius 
exiled and then killed Paulinus, an echo of behav- 
ior from an earlier time when Augustus first exiled 
his daughter Julia and then killed or exiled the 
men around her, although their innocence or guilt 
was unproven. Another favorite, Cyrus, who had 
angered Theodosius because the people acclaimed 
him, not the emperor, for improvements to the 
city, lost his position and was sent to an undesir- 
able bishopric. Shortly thereafter, Theodosius sent 
his general Saturninus to Jerusalem. He ordered 
the execution of John the Deacon and Severus. 
Ancient sources reported that Eudocia killed 
Saturninus. Finally, Theodosius deprived Eudocia 
of her imperial ministers and stopped issuing coins 
with her image. 

Eudocia's wealth and other titles remained 
untouched and gave her enormous influence in 
Palestine, where she owned extensive land. In 
effect, she created her own dominion, issuing edicts 
and securing obedience. She repaired the walls of 
Jerusalem, erected shelters for the indigent, the 
aged, and pilgrims who visited the city, and built 
and decorated churches. She disbursed an immense 
amount of gold, including sums given to the clergy, 
monks, and the poor. 

She also ordered religious tolerance and pro- 
tected the Jews who she permitted to pray at the 
ruins of Solomon's Temple. Tolerance was neither 
desired nor accepted by those whose beliefs offered 
no space for others. A group of monks, at the insti- 
gation of their leader Barsauma, killed some Jews 
as they prayed. Eudocia ordered that they be put to 
death without a trial. A large mob gathered in 
front of her establishment to protest her decision 
to kill the monks, and the governor of the province 
intervened. A mild earthquake that occurred as the 
governor was questioning Basauma was taken as a 
sign of God's disapproval. The monks were released 
with no further disorder. Her defense of the Jews 
would appear to have been a principled act, even 
though it resulted in her opposing the same monk 
whose holiness had impressed her on her first visit 
to Palestine. 

Eudocia did not live as an ascetic in Palestine 
anymore than she had in Constantinople. Her cir- 
cle of friends included poets, writers, and philoso- 
phers, as well as clergy with humanistic tastes. 
Eudocia also continued to compose poems about 
religious and secular subjects, several of which have 
survived. Although her poetic efforts have not won 
acclaim from critics, her work was important. It 
marked a transition between the classical and the 
Christian. One poem from this later period of her 
life, the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, confirmed her 
long-time attraction to the saint. She had brought 
his bones to Constantinople and restored his 
church in Jerusalem. Another was Homerocentoes, 
in which she inserted into Bible stories words and 
lines borrowed from the Iliad and the Odyssey. 

In a world still saturated with the pagan, espe- 
cially in education, the replacement of Christian 
content for pagan within the respected classical 
texts was of critical importance. These were transi- 
tional cultural expressions. They were used for 
teaching and learning Greek in a way that reflected 
the growing dominance of Christianity and at the 
same time denied any sharp break with the Greco- 
Roman literary tradition. The mere survival of 
these poems has to be recognized and applauded, 
given the filters of transmission from antiquity, 
even late antiquity, that has so systematically erased 


Eudoxia, Aelia 

women's written work. In this case, moreover, not 
only has the work survived but it speaks to a wom- 
an's role in the transformation of Greco-Roman to 
Christian literary tradition. 

Eudocia's wealth and status made her an impor- 
tant person and assured that she was kept abreast 
of affairs in the capital. It also made her a partici- 
pant in the eddies of empire that reached Palestine. 
Neither the death of Theodosius nor the successful 
machinations of Pulcheria and Marcian to rule 
affected her personal life and dominion as much as 
their convening of a new Council at Chalcedon in 
45 1 . Eudocia, along with many in Jerusalem, Alex- 
andria, and Syria, was Monophysite and believed 
that the divine nature in Christ had absorbed the 
human after Incarnation. When Juvenal, the 
bishop of Jerusalem, returned from Chalcedon, 
where he had reversed his former position and 
accepted the new orthodoxy, he was driven from 
the city. Rioting and looting by rampaging monks 
broke out and a number of people were killed. The 
monks replaced Juvenal with Theodosius, one of 
their own leaders. Eudocia strongly supported their 
cause and approved of their closing the doors of 
the city against a possible attack by imperial forces. 
She also provided them with means to defend 
themselves. Despite the involvement of Constanti- 
nople in the purposeful enforcement of the Coun- 
cil's decisions, however, Eudocia suffered no 
diminution of her independence or loss of wealth 
for her opposition. Possibly she was too far from 
Constantinople or simply no longer important 
enough to matter. Perhaps her lifelong opponent 
Pulcheria was no longer interested in competition. 

Eudocia outlived Pulcheria, but she did not 
have happy years. Political upheaval and economic 
woes shook the larger empire. She was besieged on 
all sides. Finally, she accepted the decisions of 
Chalcedon. She died on October 20, 460, her 
standing as Augusta undimmed and her sway of 
power diminished but unchallenged. 


Evagrius, H. E. Ecclesiastical History i. 20. 

Gerontius. The Life of Melania the Younger. Translation, 

Introduction, and Commentary by Elizabeth A. Clark, 

New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1984. 

John Malalas. Chronicle. 353, 355 ff. 

Socrates. Historia EcclesiaticaVll. 21. 8-9; 42. 2; 44. 

Theophanes. Theophanes, Chronographia, AM 5911, 5937, 
5940, 5947. 

Bury, J. B. History of the Late Roman Empire fom the Death 
of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian. Vol. I, New 
York: Dover Publications Inc. 1938, 220-231. 

Cameron, Alan. "The Empress and the Poet: Paganism and 
Politics at the Court Of Theodosius II." Yale Classical 
Studies 27 (1981): 217-289. 

Holum, Kenneth G. Theodosian Empresses: Women and 
Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: Univer- 
sity of California Press, 1982. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 408-409. 

Usher, Mark David. "Prolegomenon to the Homeric Cen- 
tos." American Journal of Philology 8 (1997): 305-332. 

[b] Eudoxia, Aelia 

(380^04 c.e.) Roman: Constantinople 


Eudoxia was a spirited and determined woman with 
a temper. Although only 15 or 16 at the time of her 
marriage to the emperor Arcadius, she knew the 
importance of her position, what was due her, and 
opposed anyone or anything that threatened her sta- 
tus or the status of her family. Her attitude, which 
was characteristic of a wealthy Roman matrona, may 
have come from her Roman mother. Her father, 
Flavius Bauto, was of Frankish descent. He became 
Master of Soldiers in the West under the emperor 
Valentinian II, sometime after 383. In 385 he was 
consul with the two-year old Arcadius, son of Theo- 
dosius the Great and the future husband of Eudoxia. 
Probably a Christian, he died in 388. 

Eudoxia was sent to Constantinople as a child, 
although it is unclear if she went before or after her 
parents' deaths. She was raised in the household of 
Marsa and her husband, Promotus, a Roman who 
held the same high office in the East as did her 
father in the West. Marsa's household attracted the 
most elite circle of the next generation of Roman 
imperial leaders. Eudoxia met a friend of Marsa's 
two sons, her future husband Arcadius, who had 
remained in Constantinople while his father, the 


Eudoxia, Aelia 

Aelia Eudoxia 

(Dote: 395 C.E.-404 C.E. 1977.158.968, Archives, 

American Numismatic Society) 

emperor Theodosius I, led Roman armies in the 
troubled West. In the same household, Eudoxia 
had the opportunity to become part of a circle of 
women that included Marsa as well as Castricia 
and Euphemia (2). 

These were difficult political times, with Goths 
at the borders around the empire and usurpers 
vying for imperial power in the West. After Theo- 
dosius I died one son, Arcadius, became emperor 
of the East and another, Honorius, emperor of the 
West. Arcadius was young and inexperienced. The 
Praetorian Prefect of the East, Flavius Rufinus 
dominated the inept emperor. Rufinus was by 
birth a Gaul, not a Roman, and his greatest achieve- 
ment would be a marriage between his daughter 
and the emperor. Eutropius, chamberlain of the 
royal household, who also exercised influence over 
the emperor, opposed any such union. Most oppo- 
sition came from supporters of Promotus, since 
Rufinus had been responsible for Promotus's exile 
and indirectly responsible for his later death at the 
hands of the barbarians. 

Eudoxia and Arcadius were married on April 
27, 395, shortly after Rufinus returned to Con- 

stantinople from a trip to Antioch. Rufinus's 
absence from the city appears to have provided an 
opportunity to arrange and sign the legal contracts 
for a betrothal. The subsequent ceremonies of the 
wedding, which Rufinus witnessed on his return, 
presented him with a fait accompli. The organi- 
zation of the events speaks to the networks of 
relationships that effectively tied together multi- 
generational families of wealth and influence across 
the empire. It also suggests the power these fami- 
lies exercised when they closed ranks and acted 
according to class interests. Eudoxia, ethnically 
half Roman and half Frankish and at most one 
generation Christian, entered into marriage with 
the political agenda of an establishment that styled 
itself as the elite inheritors of ancient Rome. 

After her marriage, there was little Eudoxia or 
her backers could do to prevent Rufinus from fol- 
lowing a disastrous military policy in the West. It 
was possible, however, to address the power of the 
chamberlain Eutropius, no friend of Rufinus, who 
had nonetheless overstepped his status as a eunuch 
when he was named consul in 398. 

Eudoxia precipitated Eutropius's downfall using 
virtue and fertility as her sword. Her children came 
quickly and were healthy. Her daughter Flacilla 
was born on June 10, 397; a second, Pulcheria, on 
January 19, 399; and a third, Arcadia, on April 
13, 400. In 399, Eudoxia appeared before her hus- 
band accompanied by two wailing daughters, 
Flacilla and Pulcheria, and pregnant with the third. 
She claimed that Eutropius had insulted her and 
he should be dismissed immediately. What chance 
had he against the evidence of fecundity, the most 
potent of all female virtues? Eutropius was exiled 
and his property confiscated. 

Eudoxia played a prominent role in the selec- 
tion of Aurelian, a Roman and Prefect of Constan- 
tinople, who, as Praetorian Prefect of the East and 
consul in 400, presided over the trial of Eutropius. 
The political tensions of the period, however, 
assured that every victory brought a counterattack. 
Gainas led his Ostrogoths toward Constantinople 
along with the Gothic forces of Tribigild. They 
demanded that Arcadius dismiss Aurelian and 
hand him over to them along with Saturninus, the 


Eudoxia, Aelia 

husband of Eudoxia's friend Castricia, and the 
enigmatic Count John, about whom little is known 
except that he was a frequent visitor to the palace 
and a special favorite of Eudoxia. Acadius agreed, 
and only the intervention of John Chrysostom, the 
bishop of Constantinople, whose own interests on 
behalf of the orthodox Church made it desirable to 
oblige Eudoxia, prevented their death. Instead they 
were exiled. Their exile, however, deprived Eudoxia 
of important allies. 

Arcadius proclaimed Eudoxia Augusta on Janu- 
ary 9, 400, even though she had not yet borne the 
much desired son and heir. Bronze, silver, and gold 
coins were issued with her image as Augusta on 
one side and the right hand of God reaching down 
from heaven to crown her with a wreath on the 
other side. Five months later, Aurelian regained his 
former position after a revolt against Gainas. On 
April 1, 401, amid great rejoicing, Eudoxia gave 
birth to a son, the future emperor Theodosius II, 
amid rumors that the child's father was the also- 
returned Count John. Her daughter Flacilla died, 
and Eudoxia gave birth to a fifth child, Marina, 
on February 10, 403. 

Eudoxia, not her husband, played the dominant 
role in state religious affairs. A fervent orthodox 
Christian willing to use her position to combat 
paganism and Arianism, both of which remained 
popular in the Eastern empire, her religious author- 
ity was accepted by the clergy and the populace. 
Her dogmatism, however, was modified by her 
admiration for pious clergy. Four monks called the 
Tall Brothers, who were widely known and 
renowned for their height and their piety, appealed 
to her after being charged with heresy and their 
monastic settlement in the desert of Upper Egypt 
ransacked. She summoned their accuser Theophi- 
lus, the bishop of Alexandria, to a synod she 
arranged to account for his actions, even though 
the monks were followers of Origin, whose doc- 
trine the orthodox considered heretical. 

In 400, a delegation led by Porphyry, bishop of 
Gaza, asked Eudoxia to intervene with her hus- 
band to suppress what he considered rampant 
paganism in Gaza and to destroy the sites of pagan 
worship, especially the temple of Zeus Marnas. 

Eudoxia was pregnant and susceptible to the bish- 
op's offer of prayers for a male child. However, she 
failed. The people of Gaza, her husband noted, 
paid their taxes promptly and did not cause any 
trouble. Eudoxia promised to try again. On Janu- 
ary 6, 402, at the baptism of her son, she arranged 
to slip a petition into the infant's hand and to have 
his hand raised with a request that the petition be 
granted by the emperor. Arcadius, unaware of the 
ruse, agreed to honor the petition. Subsequently 
bound by his promise, Eudoxia oversaw the 
destruction of pagan temples, including the temple 
of Zeus, upon whose site Eudoxia paid for the con- 
struction of a church. Completed after her death, 
the church was dedicated to her. 

Eudoxia had a theatrical sense which she used 
to political advantage. Wearing a simple shift to 
suggest her piety and humility, she carried a chest 
with the bones of Christian martyrs to their final 
resting place. She led a nighttime procession nine 
miles across the city from the Great Church of 
Constantinople to the newly completed martyrs' 
chapel in the church of Saint Thomas. She theatri- 
cally manipulated circumstances to reconcile the 
estranged bishops of Constantinople and Gabala, 
using a tactic that again depended on her son. 
Severian, bishop of Gabala, had ingratiated him- 
self with Eudoxia and other influential persons in 
the city in hopes of increasing his influence and 
fortune. His crass behavior soon aroused the anger 
of John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, 
whose authority he threatened. He expelled Seve- 
rian. Eudoxia ordered his return. She forced Chrys- 
ostom to reconcile with Severian by unrepentantly 
placing her infant son on Chrysostom's knee and 
imploring the bishop to extend himself if he cared 
about the well-being of her child. 

Eudoxia often exercised de facto public author- 
ity since her torpid husband rarely left the palace 
grounds. Her personal power, however, also invited 
conflict with the bishops who were flexing their 
moral imperium and extending their authority. On 
February 26, 398, John Chrysostom, an austere, 
uncompromising, blunt, and self-righteous cleric 
with a reputation for delivering eloquent sermons, 
became bishop of Constantinople. Initially, the 


Eudoxia, Aelia 

imperial family concurred, believing that he would 
support their prerogatives. Chrysostom's tenure 
opened with cordiality and he praised Eudoxia 
extravagantly when she led the procession carrying 
relics of the saints. However, he was deeply misog- 
ynist and believed that women carried Eves sin. 
According to him, women were vain, as men were 
not, and women were morally handicapped, as 
men were not. Women lacked the prerequisites of 
spiritual leadership, and men must be ever vigilant 
against the insinuation of themselves into posi- 
tions of power. A bishop holding these views would 
inevitably conflict with the independent women of 

Chrysostom may well have been genuinely 
appalled by the extravagant expenditures of the 
wealthy on huge palaces, costly furnishings, expen- 
sive clothing, and jewels, while the bulk of the 
population lived on a subsistence level, if not in 
outright deprivation. He condemned the rich and 
the renowned, and he was a charismatic preacher. 
The masses flocked to hear him. He also attracted a 
devoted coterie of wealthy women, often widows, 
who responded to his power and authority and 
who contributed money to the causes, people, and 
churches he favored. His relationship with these 
women was often double-edged. On one hand, he 
shielded the women from some of the demands of 
male relatives who pressured widows to remarry or 
who sought control over their fortunes. However, 
the women he appointed deaconesses, the lowest 
order of the Church, became subject to him as 
their bishop. He, not their male relatives, gained 
authority to receive their wealth on behalf of the 
church and to oversee their behavior. 

Chrysostom soon alienated a number of his fel- 
low clergy. Some envied his visibility and impor- 
tance. His strictness rubbed the rich lifestyle of 
others. He instituted reforms and ended the prac- 
tice of clerics using young women who took vows 
of virginity as live-in housekeepers. He removed 
church officials, including bishops, for selling 
church offices. He attacked those who embraced 
an unsuitably luxurious lifestyle and forced monks 
to withdraw to monasteries and cease to live among 
the people. 

In 403, Chrysostom delivered a scathing ser- 
mon against the extravagant wealthy women in 
which he used the word Jezebel. The congregation 
took the reference to mean Eudoxia. Her three 
closest friends, Marsa, Eugraphia, and Euphemia, 
also considered themselves insulted and reinforced 
Eudoxia's fury. She demanded that her husband 
take action. Arcadius convened a council of clerics 
to investigate Chrysostom, but Chysostom refused 
to attend. The council condemned him, not 
because of the charges, but because he failed to 
appear. Arcadius decided to banish Chrysostom, 
but mobs rallied around the Great Church and 
prevented his seizure. He delivered two sermons in 
which he again referred to Eudoxia as Jezebel and 
compared her to Salome, Eve's sister who demanded 
the head of John the Baptist. 

On the third day, Chrysostom secretly left the 
city. Eudoxia changed her mind. No more or less 
superstitious or credulous than those around her, 
she sought the signs of heavenly favor and disfavor. 
Perhaps she interpreted the death of her daughter 
Flacilla or the illness of one of her other children as 
a sign of God's displeasure. Possibly, she changed 
her mind for the more mundane reason that Chrys- 
ostom's departure had too high a political cost. 

Eudoxia sent members of her own guard to find 
Chrysostom with messages that denied responsibil- 
fly for his exile and implored him to return. Chryso- 
stom was found in Bithynia and brought back, but 
he refused to resume his position until a council 
overturned the earlier findings. Eudoxia housed him 
in one of her palaces until popular acclaim brought 
him to the pulpit. However, the reconciliation was 
brief. The Prefect of the City erected a silver statue 
of Eudoxia close to the Great Church. Customary 
music for its dedication heard during church ser- 
vices enraged Chrysostom who complained bitterly 
to the prefect. Eudoxia again felt attacked and 
threatened to convene a synod. Chrysostum deliv- 
ered a sermon again linking her behavior with that 
of Salome. Arcadius confined Chrysostom to his 
residence and in June 404 exiled him to Armenia. 

That night the Great Church of Constantinople 
caught fire, which then spread to the senate build- 
ing and parts of the palace. Rioting spread to other 


Eudoxia, Licinia 

cities and threatened the rule of the imperial fam- 
ily, but the uprisings were forcibly suppressed. On 
October 6, 404, Eudoxia, pregnant once again, 
died leaving behind four young children. 


Palladius. Dialogue 8, 9. 

Socrates. Historia Ecclesiastica VI. 18, VIII. 27. 

Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica VIII. 6, 10, 13, 15-16, 18, 
20, 27; IX. 1. 

Zosimus. New History/Zosimus. A translation with com- 
mentary by Ronald T. Ridley. Canberra: Australian 
Association of Byzantine Studies, 1982. 

Bury, J. B. History of the Later Roman Empire: From the 
Death of Theodosius to the Death of Justinian. Vol. I. New 
York: Dover Publications, 1958. 

Holum, Kenneth. Theodosian Empresses: Women and Impe- 
rial Dominion in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: University of 
California Press, 1982. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 410. 

[b] Eudoxia, Licinia 

(422-493? c.e.) 

Roman: Constantinople, Italy, Carthage 


Licinia Eudoxia played an important role in the 
debate over the nature of Christ, which dominated 
religious controversy during the period and split 
the empire. She was born in 422, the daughter of 
Augusta Aelia Eudocia, and the Eastern Roman 
emperor, Theodosius II. Brought up and educated 
in Constantinople, she was betrothed as an infant 
to Valentinian III, also a child and next in line to 
become emperor of the West. The marriage took 
place in Constantinople on October 29, 437, when 
Licina Eudoxia was 15 or 16. Her mother-in-law, 
Galla Placidia, continued to exercise a great 
influence on her son, even after her regency ended. 
On the new coins, Licinia Eudoxia and Valentin- 
ian were depicted with Theodosius II between 
them to signify the harmony of both the marriage 
and the two Roman empires. Licinia Eudoxia 
solidified her position with the birth of two girls, 
Eudocia in 438/39 and Placidia in 440. Eudoxia 
became Augusta in Ravenna in 439. 

Licinia Eudoxia 

(Date: 437 C.E.-455 C.E. 1970.201.1, Archives, 

American Numismatic Society) 

In 449, Licinia Eudoxia played a part in a series 
of critical religious councils. A council, convened 
in Ephesus against the will of the bishop of Rome, 
Leo I, adopted the Monophysite position of 
Eutyches, bishop of Constantinople, and affirmed 
the single nature of Christ. Eudoxia was an ortho- 
dox Christian, and in 450, the following year, at 
the request of Leo, she wrote to her father, Theo- 
dosius II, asking him to intervene and uphold the 
orthodox position that Christ had two natures, 
divine and human cojoined yet distinct. Her father 
died that year, and the Monophysite position was 
overturned by a second council in 451. 

Her oldest daughter, Eudocia, was four or five 
years old when she was betrothed to Huneric, the 
son of the Vandal leader Gaiseric. Although Roman 
law forbade intermarriage with barbarians, Gaiseric 
threatened to invade Italy and marriage was an 
attractive alternative to war. The betrothal, how- 
ever, had unforeseen consequences. Eudoxias hus- 
band, Valentinian, was murdered at the instigation 
of Petronius Maximus, who became emperor on 
March 17, 455. Although Licinia Eudoxia hated 
Maximus, she was forced her to marry him and 
Eudocia was forced to marry his son Palladius. 


Euphemia (I) 

Rumors began to circulate that Eudoxia had 
asked Gaiseric to avenge her. In May 455, Gaiseric 
arrived outside Rome. Maximus was killed while 
he was fleeing the city and on June 3, Gaiseric 
entered Rome. He spent about two weeks ransack- 
ing the city and returned to Carthage with immense 
booty and thousands of captives, including Licinia 
Eudoxia and her two daughters. Eudocia, perhaps 
against her will, married Huneric, fulfilling the 
terms of the earlier betrothal. 

After the marriage, perhaps in 460, Gaiseric 
allowed Licinia Eudoxia to go to Constantinople, 
where she spent her remaining years and was 
responsible for the construction of the church of 
St. Euphemia. She died around 493 c.e. 


Procopius. Vandelic War III. iv. 15, 20, 36-39; V. 3, 6. 

Socrates. Historia Ecclesiastica VII. 4. 

Theophanes. Chronicle AM 5926, 5947, 5949. 

Zonaris. Historia Nova xxiii. 25.19, 22, 23, 26, 27. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 410-412. 

[Bl Eugraphia 

(?-early fifth century c.e.) 
Roman: Constantinople 
political player 

Eugraphia belonged to the set of interconnected 
wealthy Roman families whose landholdings 
extended across empires and who sought control 
over the emperor. Educated and independent, she 
was friends with Marsa, Castricia, and the 
Augusta Aelia Eudoxia, wife of the emperor Arca- 
dius. Eugraphia was part of the group in Constan- 
tinople that arranged the betrothal and marriage of 
Aelia Eudoxia and Arcadius while Flavius Rufinus, 
the most powerful man in the empire and a politi- 
cal opponent, was temporarily absent from Con- 
stantinople. She was also among the women, led 
by the Augusta, who confronted John Chrysos- 
tom, bishop of Constantinople. 

Ostensibly the confrontation was about wealth, 
which had become concentrated in fewer and fewer 

hands as land became aggregated into estates that 
included whole towns. The population drift from 
the countryside to the cities swelled the urban 
underclass, while trade increased and further 
enriched the well off. Most of the population lived 
at a subsistence level or even in dire poverty. Chrys- 
ostom railed against the uncaring wealthy in charis- 
matic sermons that entranced the poor and beguiled 
many of the rich. However, he was not a diplomatic 
man. In 403, he attacked rich old widows who 
adorned themselves as if they were young with face 
paint and elaborate hairstyles. He compared them 
to common prostitutes. Eugraphia and her wealthy 
friends considered his remarks a personal attack. 
They had the ear of the Augusta and turned her 
against the bishop. Eugraphia also provided her 
house for meetings of clerics who opposed the very 
visible and righteous bishop, including Theophilus, 
bishop of Alexandria, and Severian, bishop of Gab- 
ala, whose stars were dimmed by Chrysostom. 

Eugraphia disappears from the records, but the 
battle between the women and Chrysostom suc- 
ceeded. Chrysostom lost his position and left the 


Palladius. Dialogue. 4, 8. 

Zosimus. New History/Zosimus. Translation with commen- 
tary by Ronald T. Ridley. Canberra: Australian Associa- 
tion for Byzantine Studies, 1982. 5. 23. 2; 8. 16. 1-2. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 417. 

[b] Euphemia (I) (Lupicina) 

(?— 524 c.e.) Roman: Balkans 

Euphemia was born Lupicina, a barbarian, a slave, 
and possibly a prostitute. She died an Augusta, 
wife of the emperor. Her husband, Justin, an Illyr- 
ian peasant who purchased her from her owner, 
rose through the armed forces and had received 
Senatorial rank. Her status grew with his, as did 
their wealth. In time they were able to contract a 


Euphemia (2) 

The Senate declared her husband emperor in 5 1 8, 
following the death of the elderly emperor Anasta- 
sius. She changed her name from Lupicina to Euphe- 
mia, after Saint Euphemia of Chalcedon. Her name 
was not only more suitable for the wife of an emperor, 
but also declared the couples support for orthodox 
Christianity. In a society ridden with strife over the 
nature of Christ, Euphemia and Justin supported the 
Council of Chalcedon, which had rejected the 
Monophysite position and established as orthodoxy 
that Christ embodied within himself two natures, 
human and divine, cojoined yet separate. 

Euphemia and Justin were quite elderly when he 
became emperor. Having no children of their own, 
Justin followed custom and adopted his favorite 
nephew Justinian. Euphemia favored Justinian but 
was adamant against his marriage with Theodora. 
She had assumed the airs of the elite and scorned 
Theodoras disreputable background. She succeeded 
in preventing their marriage of cohabitation from 
becoming a formal contractual marriage. Only after 
her death did Justin allow passage of the law per- 
mitting marriage between a man of Senatorial rank 
and an actress at the emperors discretion. 

Euphemia provided the funds for the construc- 
tion of a church of St. Euphemia and a monastery. 
She was entombed in the church she built. Her 
husband was buried beside her several years later. 


Procopius. Secret History vi. 17 (under Lupicina); ix. 47, 
48, 49 (under Euphemia). 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 423. 

[b] Euphemia (2) 

(c. sixth century C.E.) 
Roman: Constantinople 
political pawn 

Euphemia, the daughter of John the Cappadocian, 
became the unwitting instrument of her fathers 
downfall. John was Praetorian Prefect and highly 
regarded by the emperor Justinian for his efficiency 
in tax collection. John's cruelty and greediness 
endeared him to few but made him invaluable to 


Justinian who needed money to finance his grand 
plans. He was, however, especially hated by the 
Augusta Theodora, who felt that he had too much 
influence over her husband. John also was sus- 
pected to harbor an ambition to become emperor, 
which roused Theodora's ally Antonina on behalf 
of her husband Belisarius who was Justinian's lead- 
ing general. The two women hatched a plan. 

Antonina sought out Euphemia. She lamented 
that the emperor failed to appreciate her husband's 
accomplishments. Asked by Euphemia, innocently 
or otherwise, why her husband did not use the 
troops under his command to change things, Anto- 
nina replied that her husband was engaged in cam- 
paigns far from Constantinople. He needed a 
partner. She suggested that Euphemia arrange a 
meeting with her father. Euphemia informed her 
father. In the meantime, Antonina informed Theo- 
dora of the meeting, which was to be held at night 
under the walls in a suburb of Constantinople. 
Theodora told her husband and also arranged for 
two trusted officials and a contingent of soldiers to 
hide behind a wall. The officials overheard the 
plans for a coup. John escaped the officers who 
came to arrest him. He fled into the city where he 
was apprehended and banished. 

Nothing more is known of Euphemia. 


Procopius. Persian Wars I, xxv. 13—30. 

Bury, J. B. Later Roman Empire from the Death ofTheodosius 
to the Death of Justinian. Vol. II. New York: Dover Pub- 
lications Inc., 1958, pp. 57-58. 

[a] Eurydice (I) 

(fourth century b.c.e.) 

Illyrian: Illyricum and Macedonia 

political player 

Eurydice used her intelligence, prestige, and wealth 
to protect herself and her children in the struggles 
over succession in Macedonia. The grandmother 
of Cleopatra (3) and Alexander the Great through 
her son Philip, she probably was from Illyria, 
northwest of Macedonia. The daughter of Sirrhas, 
she may have been descended from a branch of the 
Bacchiadae clan, originally of Corinth, some of 
whom migrated to Illyria and founded the royal 

Eurydice (2) 

family of Lyncestis. As an adult Eurydice learned 
to read and write, a rare accomplishment, espe- 
cially for a woman, and one for which she justly 
was both grateful and proud. 

She married twice. Her first husband was Amyn- 
tas III, ruler of Macedonia (393-70 b.c.e.). Their 
marriage strengthened the relationship between 
Illyria and Macedonia. She had three sons, Alexan- 
der, Perdiccas, and Philip, each of whom would in 
turn rule. She also had a daughter, Eurynoe. 

She was widowed in 370, and her son Alexan- 
der succeeded his father. She married her daugh- 
ter's husband, Ptolemy of Alorus, for dynastic 
reasons. It is not known what happened to 
Eurynoe, but it is known that Ptolemy killed 
Eurydice's son Alexander in 368 b.c.e. Never 
declared ruler, Ptolemy governed as regent over her 
other two sons for the next three years. 

During Ptolemy's regency, a usurper named 
Pausanius attempted to claim the throne of Mace- 
donia. Eurydice called on the Athenian general 
Iphicrates, whom her first husband had adopted as 
a son, to support the claim of her two remaining 
sons as the legitimate rulers of Macedonia. She put 
her two surviving children in his arms and pleaded 
their case. He drove out the usurper. 

Later, when her son Perdiccas became old 
enough to rule, he had the regent Ptolemy killed. 
Perdiccas died in battle and was succeeded by her 
third son, Philip II, in 359. It remains unclear 
when Eurydice died. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 15.71.1; 77.5. 
Justin. Epitome 7.4—5. 
Plutarch. De liberis educandis 20.14. 
Strabo. Geography 7.7, 8. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, index. 

[a] Eurydice (2) (Adea) 

(c. 337-317 b.c.e.) Greek: Macedonia 
political player 

Eurydice fought to rule Macedonia. She allied her- 
self with Cassander during the turmoil in the 
decade after the death of Alexander the Great. 

Eurydice, originally called Adea, was the grand- 
daughter of Philip II of Macedon and an Illyrian 
princess, Audata. Her mother was Cynane, and 
her father, Amyntas, was Philip's nephew. She 
learned the skills of hunting and fighting from her 
mother, who had hunted and fought at the side of 
her grandfather. 

In 322 b.c.e., Eurydice and her mother joined 
the complicated struggle for power that resulted 
from the unexpected death of Alexander a year ear- 
lier. Their interest was Macedonia. The generals of 
Alexander's army had already carved up his empire, 
and Philip Arrhidaeus, the son of Philip II and 
Philinna, and the infant son of Alexander the 
Great and Roxane, had been declared the joint rul- 
ers of Macedonia. The general Antipater, who had 
represented Alexander in Europe during the Asia 
campaign, was declared regent and the effective 
ruler of Macedonia. 

Cynane raised an army and went to Asia. To 
further Eurydice's claim over Macedonia, Cynane 
was determined that Eurydice marry the weak 
Philip. Cynane was killed in front of the troops on 
orders of Alcestas, the brother of Perdiccas, who 
had been the second in command of Alexander's 
army. Outraged by the murder, the army demanded 
that Eurydice and Philip Arrhidaeus be allowed to 
wed. Once married, Eurydice followed her moth- 
er's footsteps. She inflamed the troops against 
Antipater. By the time Antipater returned to Tripa- 
radessus, he found the troops unpaid and close to 
revolt. Somehow he turned the situation around 
and persuaded Eurydice and her husband, as well 
as Roxane and her infant son, to return with him 
to Macedonia. 

Antipater died in 319, and Eurydice, now in 
Macedonia, found herself allied with his heir 
Polyperchon. Disagreements between them led to 
her offering an alliance to Cassander, who was 
seeking to overthrow Polyperchon. She arranged 
for her weak husband to proclaim Cassander 
regent. At the same time her stepgrandmother 
Olympias (1), who ruled in Epirus and who had 
unsuccessfully sought to control Macedonia for 
decades, allied herself with Polyperchon and raised 
an army against Eurydice. 


Eurydice (3) 

At the border of Macedonia Eurydice met the 
army of Olympias. The soldiers regarded Olympias 
as sacred. They refused to fight. Olympias impris- 
oned Eurydice and tortured her. She sent her a 
sword, a noose, and hemlock and ordered her to 
commit suicide. Eurydice damned Olympias with 
the same fate befell her and hanged herself with 
the straps of her gown. She had not yet reached 20 
when she died in 317. 

In 316, Cassander defeated Olympias and had 
her murdered. He gave Eurydice a royal burial at 


Arrian. Successors 1.30-33, 42, 44. 

Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 18.39.2-4; 18.49; 
19.11, 1-8. 

Justin. Epitome 14.5.1-4, 8-10. 

Carney, Elizabeth D. "The Career of Adea-Eurydice." His- 
toria 36 (1897): pp. 496-502. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 40 ff, 48-52. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 575. 

[a] Eurydice (3) 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Macedonia, Egypt, and Miletus 

political player; military leader 

Eurydice experienced several turns of fortune dur- 
ing her life. Her father, Antipater, claimed Greece 
and Macedonia after the death of Alexander the 
Great in 323 b.c.e. Antipater cemented alliances 
with marriages for his three daughters. Eurydice 
married Ptolemy I Soter in 322 or 321 b.c.e. Her 
sister Nicaea (i) married Lysimachus, who gov- 
erned Thrace; Phila (i) married Demetrius, who 
later ruled Macedonia. 

Eurydice was probably the third or fourth wife of 
Ptolemy I and bore four children: a son, Ptolemy 
Ceraunus, and three daughters, Lysandra, Ptole- 
mais, and Theoxena. Eurydice had brought with her 
to Egypt her younger cousin Berenice I. Her elderly 
husband fell in love with Berenice, who in 3 17 per- 
suaded Ptolemy to make her son his successor. 

Supplanted by the younger woman, the wealthy 
Eurydice never remarried. She went to live in Mile- 
tus, a city in Asia Minor, where she had consider- 
able influence. In 286 she arranged the marriage of 
her daughter, Ptolemais, with Demetrius I, the 
widower of her sister Phila and the sometime ruler 
of Macedonia. The alliance enhanced the position 
of her ambitious son, who was said to have been 
violent and cruel. For a short while Ceraunus ruled 
Macedonia. Eurydice moved to Cassandreia in 
Macedonia. She controlled the city with her army 
and was honored with a festival called Eurydicaea. 


Polyaenus. Strategemata 6.72. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 B.C. 

London: Methuen, 1951, pp. 13, 43, 55, 58. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 102-104. 

[a] Eurydice (4) 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Thrace and Macedonia 
political player 

Eurydice was a participant in the unending con- 
flict for control over Macedonia in the generations 
after the death of Alexander the Great. She was the 
daughter of Nicaea (i) and the granddaughter of 
Antipater, the general Alexander had assigned to 
rule Europe when he went to Asia on his last cam- 
paign. Her father, Lysimachus, ruled Thrace and 
married her mother to enhance the ties between 
Antipater and himself. Her sister was Arsinoe I. 
Eurydice married her cousin, also named Antipater 
who was the son of Thessalonice and Cassander, 
ruler of Macedonia. Her marriage thereby extended 
into the next generation the historical link between 
Thrace and Macedonia. 

On the death of her father-in-law, her mother- 
in-law divided Macedonia between Eurydice's hus- 
band, Antipater, and his brother, Alexander. Her 
husband, the elder brother, felt that he should have 
inherited all of Macedonia. He killed his mother 
and fought with his younger brother. Alexander 
appealed for help to the general Demetrius, who 
had his own ideas as to who should rule Macedo- 



nia. He arrived with his troops, murdered Alexan- 
der, drove Antipater and Eurydice out of the 
country, and made himself ruler. 

Eurydice and Antipater fled to her father in 
Thrace. Lysimachus eventually made peace with 
Demetrius, which resulted in a quarrel with his 
son-in-law, Antipater. He had Antipater killed and 
then imprisoned Eurydice for siding with her hus- 
band. She probably died there, since she ceased to 
be an actor in the Macedonian drama. 


Justin. Epitome 16.1, 2. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 55-58. 


(fourth century b.c.e/ 
self-made woman 

Greek: Sparta 

Euryleonis was a wealthy Spartan woman. She was 
one of the first three women whose horses won 
races at the Olympic Games. Her name was 
inscribed on the lists of victors and on inscriptions 
that she erected. A statue of Euryleonis commemo- 
rating her victory in a two-horse chariot race stood 
in the temple of Aphrodite in Sparta. 


Pausanias. Description of Greece 3.17.6. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, p. 130. 

[b] Eusebia 

(?— 360 c.e.) Greco-Roman: Constantinople 


Eusebia played an influential role in the policies of 
her husband, the emperor Constantius II, third 
son of Constantine the Great. A noted beauty 
whose father was probably Flavius Eusebius, a for- 
mer consul, she became the emperor's second wife 
in 353/54. 

Eusebia interceded to prevent the execution of 
the young future emperor Julian, cousin of the 
emperor, on spurious charges. In 355, despite 
opposition by some of his advisors, she convinced 

her husband to appoint Julian Caesar for the West 
on the grounds that it was better to appoint a rela- 
tive than anyone else. She was also responsible for 
the appointment of her brothers Flavius and Hypa- 
tius as consuls in the same year, and she arranged 
that no taxes be paid by her family. 

Eusebia's great misfortune was her, or her hus- 
band's, inability to have children. Malicious gossip 
about Eusebia that circulated widely accused her of 
injuring Helen, her husband's sister and the wife of 
Julian, to avoid Helen's bearing a child. Eusebia 
died early in 360, supposedly from a fertility drug. 


Ammiamus Marcellinus. XV. 2.8; 8.3; XVI. 10. 18. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 300-301. 

[b] Eustochium 

(c. 368-c. 419/420) 
Roman: Rome, Palestine 
ascetic and Christian scholar 

Eustochium chose to remain a virgin, devote herself 
to Christ, and live an ascetic life in a community 
with other like-minded women. She and her mother, 
the elder Paula, founded monasteries in Palestine 
where they lived with the famed churchman Jerome 
and worked with him on a translation of the com- 
plete Bible from Greek to Latin. After the death of 
her mother, she restored the heavily indebted mon- 
asteries to financial stability and left them secure in 
the hands of her niece, the younger Paula. 

Eustochium mingled with leaders of the state and 
the educated elite who were attracted to Christianity. 
She was one of five children from a wealthy patrician 
family. Her mother Paula traced her lineage to the 
renowned Cornelia (2) . Her father, a senator, was 
descended from an old Greek family. Her sisters, 
Blaesilla, Paulina, Rufina, and brother, Toxotius, 
named after his father, were all well educated and 
expected to continue the family tradition. 

The fourth century was a period of political and 
economic disarray. The debasement of imperial 
coinage reflected economic dislocations that reduced 



agricultural production and income for the poor, 
the rich, and the state. The century also witnessed 
the development of Christian monasticism, among 
both women and men. In Rome, Marcella, a 
friend of the family and one of the early renowned 
Christian scholars and ascetics, used her house as 
a haven for chaste virgins and celibate widows 
who chose to live a simple and contemplative life. 
Eustochium's mother became a part of Marcellas 
Christian circle. After her husband died, she chose 
not to remarry and to initiate a monastic lifestyle 
for her children and her household. She sent 
Eustochium to live with Marcella, who was 
increasingly a teacher and scholar of Christianity 
as well as an ascetic role model. Eustochium mas- 
tered Greek and Hebrew which enabled her to 
read the ancient religious texts in their original 

The renowned ascetic and churchman Jerome 
arrived in Rome in 382 and changed the lives of 
Eustochium and her mother. Paula met him at 
Marcellas house where he would read aloud from 
the scriptures. He became a spiritual mentor for 
both Paula and Eustochium. Eustochium, how- 
ever, was still young, and family members, other 
than her mother, tried to dissuade her from inten- 
sifying her devotion to Christ. Despite family pres- 
sure, in 384, when she was about 16, Eustochium 
took a vow of perpetual virginity. Jerome took the 
occasion to write her one of his longest letters, in 
which he outlined the motives for adopting a life 
of virginity and the rules to be followed. In 
Eustochium, Jerome found a woman with whom 
his own complicated ambivalences about women 
and sexuality could be safely explored. However, 
Eustochium had chosen the ascetic life after reflec- 
tion and study with Marcella. Jerome's letters to 
her were more a polemic addressed to the uncon- 
vinced than a contribution to her spiritual path. 
The letters say nothing of her views, except that 
she had chosen never to marry. 

Jerome came under criticism in Rome for his 
close relationship with Paula and for the death of 
Blaesilla, who had fallen ill after stringent fasting. 
The Roman bishop Damascus, a strong supporter, 
died in 384. His successor Siricius disliked Jerome 

and Jerome reluctantly left the city for Palestine in 
385. Eustochium, her mother, and an entourage of 
young women, former servants, and perhaps 
eunuchs soon followed. On a 10-day stopover in 
Cyprus they met with bishop Epiphaneus and vis- 
ited monasteries. They continued to Antioch and 
met Jerome. Together, they began a leisurely trip to 
Jerusalem, stopping to visit the important holy 
sites in Egypt, including the monasteries in the 
Nitrea Mountains. In Jerusalem, they visited the 
male and female monasteries that the elder Mela- 
nia had built. They decided to build their own 

The group settled in Bethlehem, where they 
lived for some three years while their permanent 
quarters were being constructed. Paula was 
Eustochium's teacher as she built monasteries for 
women and for men as well as a hostelry for travel- 
ers. The men's monastery was administered by a 
male ascetic under Jerome's direction. The women, 
who came from different provinces and social 
strata, were divided into three groups and housed 
in separate buildings, each led by a woman respon- 
sible to Paula. All wore coarse clothing, took part 
in the household tasks, and made clothes for them- 
selves and others. Each ascetic worked and ate sep- 
arately, but came together several times a day in 
small groups for prayers, reading from the psalter, 
and the singing of hymns. Men and women came 
together on Sundays to worship at the Church of 
the Holy Sepulchre. 

Eustochium and Paula were instrumental in 
Jerome's work to create an authoritative translation 
of the Greek Bible into Latin. A Latin edition of 
the Bible was seriously needed. What had been a 
bilingual empire, joined by the multilingual educa- 
tion of the elite, was separating according to lan- 
guage. Even an admired scholar and church father 
like Augustine knew no Greek. Paula and Eustochium 
reached back to the older pagan tradition, having 
mastered not only Latin and Greek but also 
Hebrew. They were the perfect foils for Jerome as 
he attempted the arduous task of translation. In 
the almost daily meetings with Jerome, they 
addressed questions about the interpretation of the 
text, uncertainties about the sense of one language 



expressed in another, and felicities of words and 
phrases. Some of the commentaries that he wrote 
came from their suggestions, and he dedicated a 
number of his works to them. 

Eustochium faced a perilous situation in 404 
when her mother died. After liberally providing for 
the children she left behind in Italy, Paula had 
spent all that she possessed and all she could bor- 
row. Jerome did not think that Eustochium could 
ever repay her mother's debts. Eustochium, how- 
ever, was a gifted administrator who confounded 
Jerome and not only paid off the debt but put the 
monasteries on a sound financial basis. Possibly, 
Eustochium turned to her family in Italy for help, 
particularly to her brother Toxotius who had been 
well endowed by her mother before she encoun- 
tered financial difficulties. 

Paula and Eustochium had remained in close 
contact with their family in Italy. Her brother Tox- 
otius and his wife Laeta also felt the pull of asceti- 
cism and decided that their daughter, the younger 
Paula, should follow her grandmother's and aunt's 
footsteps, and that they would not arrange a mar- 
riage for her. Laeta wrote to Jerome in Bethlehem 
requesting advice on raising her. He urged her to 
send the child to Paula and Eustochium. The elder 
Paula died before the younger Paula left for Pales- 
tine when she was about 13 or 14 years old. 

The Roman world changed forever when the 
city of Rome fell to the Goths in 410. Palestine, 
however, was at the outer reaches of the empire, 
and the eddies of change were slower. Business 
continued in the traditional fashion. Eustochium 
confronted the ever-present need for money to 
support the monasteries. In 4 1 6, the younger Paula 
was already in Palestine and working with 
Eustochium when Jerome wrote to Augustine with 
greetings from them and noted that in 4 1 5 the two 
women had sent a presbyter named Firmus on 
business, first to Ravenna and afterward to Africa 
and Sicily, but had not heard from him. Jerome 
enclosed a letter to be given to Firmus by Augus- 
tine if he could be located. The business most 
likely had to do with estates that the women, most 
probably the younger Paula, had inherited and 
may have wanted sold. 

As a comment on the changes in society that 
were taking place, Jerome also apologized to Augus- 
tine for not sending the Latin translations that 
Augustine had requested, since there was a severe 
shortage of clerks who knew the written Latin lan- 
guage. However, religious controversies continued. 
Also in Palestine in 415, a council met at Diospolis 
and acquitted Pelegius of heresy. Pelegius developed 
an attractive fusion of Neoplatonism and Christi- 
anity in which he resolved the vexing issue of the 
presence of evil in a world created by God without 
evil. He posited that there was no original sin, that 
men and women had free will to choose good or 
evil, and that over the long course of time they 
would choose good. His acquittal was an occasion 
for rejoicing among his followers, which became a 
riot. Some of the buildings in the monastic com- 
pounds of Eustochium and Paula were burned. 

In 417, Eustochium and Paula sent a letter to 
Innocent, the bishop in Rome, complaining of the 
murders, fires, and other outrages in their district 
consequent to the findings of the council. Inno- 
cent wrote to John, bishop of Jerusalem, demand- 
ing to know why he had not protected the victims 
and not seized the perpetrators. Before anything 
was done, however, Innocent and John died, and 
Eustochium followed in 419/20, soon after. 


Jerome. Letter XXII. 2 

. Letter XXII. 2, 20. 


McNamara, Jo Anne. "Cornelia's Daughters: Paula and 

Eustochium." Women's Studies (1984): 9-27. 
Yarbrough, Anne. "Christianization in the Fourth Century: 

The Example of Roman Women." Church History 45, 

no. 2 (June 1976): 149-165. 

[b] Euthydice (Eurydice) 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Athens, Cyrene, and Macedonia 

political player 

Euthydice (also called Eurydice) fared well in the 
turbulent Greek political world of the late fourth 
century b.c.e. She came from a prominent Athe- 
nian clan, the Philaidaes. Her father, Miltiades, 


Eutropia, Galeria Valeria 

traced his ancestry to the general of the same name 
who had won the decisive victory over the Persians 
at Marathon in 490 b.c.e. She married Ophelias, a 
Macedonian officer in the army of Alexander the 
Great and who had joined Ptolemy when he 
became ruler of Egypt after Alexanders death. She 
went with her husband when Ptolemy sent Ophel- 
ias to Cyrene in North Africa where he subdued a 
revolt and became a virtually independent ruler, 
albeit under the suzerainty of Ptolemy. 

Her husband and Agathocles, the tyrant of Syr- 
acuse, joined in a campaign to conquer Carthage. 
Her name was well known in Athens, and there- 
fore many Athenians joined Ophellas's force. The 
expedition was not a success. The troops marched 
through the desert, and in 309 Agathocles mur- 
dered her husband. 

After her husband's death, Euthydice returned 
to Athens. She married the handsome Demetrius 
I, who ruled Macedonia, had collected three wives, 
and was at a high point in his turbulent career. She 
gave birth to a son, Corrhagus. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Demetrius 14.2; 
20.40; 53.4. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,068. 

[b] Eutropia, Galeria Valeria 

(third-fourth century C.E.) 
Roman: Syria, Italy, and Judaea 
wife of the co-emperor, early Christian 

Galeria Valeria Eutropia outlived her husband 
Maximian, coruler of the Roman Empire with 
Diocletian, and died a devout Christian. She was 
part of a circle of strong, independent, and wealthy 
women that included two Augusta — her daughter 
Flavia Maxima Fausta, and Helena Flavia Julia 
(i), who was the mother of Constantine — and 
Constantine's half sister, Flavia Julia Constantia. 
All of them influenced the political events and reli- 
gious controversies of the day. 

Eutropia was born in Syria. Her husband, a 
general under the emperor Diocletian, was 

appointed Caesar in the West and then co-Augus- 
tus. In addition to her daughter Fausta, she had a 
son Maxentius. On May 1, 305 c.e., the emperor 
Diocletian retired. Her husband reluctantly fol- 
lowed, and she settled with him in the court of 
Constantine. Maxentius, passed over for succes- 
sion in favor of Galarius and Constantine, imme- 
diately took up arms and within the year persuaded 
his father to support him. The following years 
were filled with unsuccessful reconciliations and 
wars over succession. In 307, her daughter Fausta 
married the future emperor Constantine as part of 
her husband's effort to form an alliance between 
himself and Maxentius. The effort failed, and 
Eutropia found her children on opposite sides of 
the struggles for control over the empire, or some 
part of it. 

Five years later, in 310 Maximian attempted to 
seize power and assassinate his son-in-law Con- 
stantine. Fausta revealed the plot to her husband. 
It failed, and soon after Maximian committed sui- 
cide. In 311, Eutropia's son, Maxentius, engaged 
in an armed struggle with her son-in-law. A year 
later, in 312, Constantine defeated him at the Mil- 
vian Bridge in one of the most famous battles of 
the later Roman Empire. It was not much of a bat- 
tle; Maxentius died by drowning in the Tiber. 
However, this was the military encounter in which 
Constantine was said to have successfully tested 
the power of Christianity to bring him victory. 
Thereafter, Christianity, despite setbacks, was on 
the rise. 

All during these conflicts among her kin, before 
and after her husband's death, Eutropia appears to 
have remained at Constantine's court. She, her 
daughter, Constantine's half sister, and his mother 
formed a nucleus of Christian women around 
whom probably gathered women of lesser rank 
and clerics. Constantia and Helena were close to 
the priests Arrius and Eusebius, and Helena has 
long been credited by some with bringing Christi- 
anity to her son. 

After the death of her husband, Eutropia trav- 
eled to visit Christian holy places. Her life 
becomes less well documented although she is 


Eutropia, Galeria Valeria 

known to have visited the site of Mambre, revered Sources 

by Jews and Christians. Constantine arranged Barnes, Timothy. The New Empire of Diocletian and Con- 

for shrines to be erected after she reported that stantine. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982, 

the site was being defiled by Jews and pagans pp. 33, 34. 

with their markets and fairs. She probably died Lane Fox, Robin. Pagans and Christians. New York: Alfred 

soon after. ' ' A. Knopf, 1987, p. 674. 





(first century b.c.e. 

Roman: Rome 

Fabia was a Vestal Virgin at the temple of Vesta in 
the Forum. In 73 b.c.e. she was accused of licen- 
tious behavior with Lucius Sergius Catiline, a 
young Roman patrician who led a conspiracy 
against the Senate that was successfully squelched 
by Fabia's brother-in-law Marcus Tullius Cicero, 
consul in 63 b.c.e. Fabia was exonerated. 

In 58 she gave her half sister Terentia (i), 
Cicero's wife, sanctuary during the turbulent year 
of her husband's exile. She and Terentia were well- 
to-do women, and Fabia may have provided Teren- 
tia with cash until she could raise money from her 
own estates. 


Asconius. Commentary on Cicero's Pro Milone 91c. 
Cicero. In Catalinum 3, 9. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 239. 

[a] Fabiola 

(?-c. 399 c.e.) Roman: Rome, Palestine 
founder of the first charity hospital in Europe 

Fabiola lived with conflict and passion. Her life rico- 
cheted between extremes of violence and repentance, 

celibacy and marriage, and wealth and poverty. She 
walked in sackcloth to ask forgiveness for her sins, 
founded Europe's first public hospital for the poor, 
and studied with the eminent ascetic Jerome. Fabiola 
lived as a wealthy and worldly Roman matron 
through two marriages. Although she gave her 
money to the poor, like many other wealthy women, 
she retained enough to support herself, her travels, 
and her projects. Unlike women who founded mon- 
asteries, however, Fabiola had an innovative vision of 
Christian charity, rooted in social action. 

Fabiola came from a Roman patrician clan, the 
Fabia, converted to Christianity at a young age, 
and made an unfortunate first marriage. Her hus- 
band was violent and unfaithful. She obtained a 
divorce under civil law which recognized a wom- 
an's right to initiate divorce proceedings and to 
claim compensation for cause. She remarried, 
which was legal and desirable in upper-class Roman 
society where there was no clear role for an unmar- 
ried young man or woman. However, divorce and 
remarriage, even with cause, was not the Christian 
way in the fourth and fifth centuries. In addition, 
the growing ascetic movement elevated the value 
of lifelong celibacy, and, for the first time in the 
Greco-Roman world, never having married was 
more admired than being married. While it 
remained acceptable for a widow to remarry, it was 



the celibate widow and never-married virgin who 
were the more celebrated. 

After the death of her second husband, Fabiola 
changed. Jerome, who wrote a warm and loving 
letter about her after her death, claimed that she 
saw the light of God. Dressed in sackcloth, Fabiola 
paraded back and forth in front of the Lateran 
Basilica, the largest church in Rome and home to 
the bishop, to seek forgiveness for her divorce and 
remarriage outside the church and to atone for her 
sins with public penance. Her intensity and per- 
haps theatricality impressed the bishop and she 
was allowed to take communion. 

Fabiola sold her extensive properties and began 
to support monasteries and the poor throughout 
Italy. In Rome, she established the first public hos- 
pital, open to anyone in need. The application of 
the Christian principle of nondiscrimination for 
those in need was so unusual at the time that she 
had to walk the streets to find sick people and 
according to Jerome she would sometimes carry 
them to the hospital on her back. Fabiola tended 
to the sick herself, bathing, feeding, and cleansing 
their wounds, undeterred by unsightly injuries or 
infectious diseases. She also founded a nursing 
home adjacent to the hospital for anyone who 
needed additional time to recover and had no one 
to care for them, another application of Christian 
principles revolutionary to the period. 

Fabiola's hospital and nursing home were very 
much needed. During the third and fourth centu- 
ries, the cities had ever-larger numbers of people 
on the streets and uncared for as economic disloca- 
tions upset historical networks of private patron- 
age that had provided a basic social net. The very 
rich became more dependent on imperial favor 
and largesse than on the numbers of clients who 
waited outside their door for their attention, and 
too many landless poor had drifted into the city 
without work or family. An always harsh world 
had become harsher. Christian charity was wel- 
come news. Fabiola provided a model for charily 
hospitals throughout Christendom, which extends 
to the present day. 

Fabiola visited Jerome, the elder Paula, and 
Eustochium in Bethlehem in 394. As with most 

women of her time and class, she had a fine educa- 
tion which enabled her to read and write Greek 
and Hebrew as well as Latin. She also had an 
inquiring mind that found a mentor in Jerome, 
who liked smart, educated women and the role of 
intellectual guide. A threatened attack by the Ger- 
mans was on the horizon and Fabiola returned to 
Rome, having visited for less than a year. Her 
innovative social reforms, however, were not over. 
Once back, she established a hospice for travelers, 
as well as a resting place for the poor and sick at 
Portus, two miles north of Ostia. The need must 
have been in the air. Pammachus, son-in-law of the 
elder Paula and the widower of her daughter Pau- 
lina, had a similar plan. After his wife's death, he 
became a monk, an urban ascetic, who dressed in 
rough robes and sought to use his wealth for the 
poor. They established independent hospices until 
it became apparent to Fabiola that collaboration 
would enhance both their efforts. The collabora- 
tion lasted until Fabiola died not long after in 


Jerome. Letter LXIV, LXXVII. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 323. 

[a] Fadia 

(first century b.c.e.) 
Roman: Italy and Greece 
ignored wife 

Fadia was the de facto wife of Mark Antony during 
the period when he studied in Athens. They had at 
least one child, and their relationship was suffi- 
ciently well acknowledged for Marcus Tullius 
Cicero to attack Antony in the second Philippic as 
the son-in-law of a lowborn freedman. Fadia's 
father was the freedman Quintus Fadius. 


Cicero. Orationes Philippicae 2.2, 4. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 3. 


Fannia (I) 

Fannia (I) 

(first century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Fannia married Gaius Titinius from the city of 
Minturnae, located on the coast southeast of 
Rome. He divorced her and in 100 b.c.e., applied 
to retain her dowry on account of her immoral 
character. Fannia argued that Titinius had known 
her character before they married. The adjudicator 
was the consul Gaius Marius, the famous general. 

Marius established that Titinius had married 
Fannia fully aware of her reputation and with the 
intention of divorcing her and keeping the dowry. 
He advised him to drop the case. Titinius refused. 
Marius fined Fannia a small sum and fined Titinius 
an amount equal to the value of the dowry to be 
paid to Fannia. 

In 88 Fannia returned the favor by hiding Gaius 
Marius in her house when he was fleeing after his 
defeat by Lucius Cornelius Sulla. 


Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri 1X8.2.3. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 220. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 49-51. 

Fannia (2) 
(?-107 c.e.; 
stoic; exiled 

Roman: Italy 

Fannia was an educated, cultured, and determined 
woman who lived a principled life. She was the 
daughter of the younger Arria and Publius 
Claudius Thrasea Paetus, as well as the grand- 
daughter of the elder Arria and Caecina Paetus. 
Like her parents and grandparents, she was a fol- 
lower of the Stoics. 

Fannia married the elder Helvidius Priscus, who 
was already 55 years old and had a son, Helvidius 
Priscus, and a daughter-in-law, Anteia. Fannia 
and her mother voluntarily accompanied her hus- 
band into exile in 66 c.e. after the death of her 
father, Thrasea Paetus. They returned after the 

accession of the emperor Galba in 69. Her hus- 
band became praetor in 70 while still a supporter 
of Vespasian, who had become emperor after Gal- 
ba's assassination in 69. Vespasian became increas- 
ingly angered with Priscus's persistent efforts to 
prosecute and discredit those whose false charges 
had brought about his own exile and the death of 
his fatherin-law during the previous regime. On 
Vespasian's orders, Priscus was again exiled, and 
Fannia and her mother again left with him. He was 
killed while in exile. 

Fannia and Arria returned after the death of 
Vespasian. The new emperor, Domitian, was no 
friend of art, philosophy or dissent, principled or 
otherwise. In relatively short order, Fannia's step- 
son, the younger Helvidius Priscus, was con- 
demned for writing a farce that Domitian believed 
to be a reflection on his own divorce. In 93 Domi- 
tian executed Priscus and in an effort to rid himself 
of dissenters, ordered all philosophers out of 

A laudatory memoir of Priscus began to circu- 
late in Rome. Fannia and her mother were tried for 
their support of the memoir written by Herennius 
Senecio. At the trial, Senecio declared that he had 
written the work at the behest of Fannia, which 
she corroborated and added that she had not only 
commissioned the work but had made private 
material available to Senecio. In her testimony 
Fannia sought to exonerate her mother from any 
responsibility; both were nonetheless exiled. Fan- 
nia retained a copy of the memoir, despite the Sen- 
ate's order that all copies be destroyed. 

In 96, after Nerva succeeded Domitian, Fannia 
and Arria returned to Rome. At the request of 
Pliny the Younger, a family friend, Fannia and 
Arria joined Anteia in a suit to restore Priscus's 
name and recover damages. The case was contro- 
versial, and the Senate was split. Pliny was pressed 
to drop the charges. Many among the elite felt 
that, should he succeed, they too would then be 
exposed to similar prosecution. 

Fannia probably died in 107. She had con- 
tracted tuberculosis from nursing her relative Junia 
(3), who was a Vestal Virgin. 


Fausta, Flavia Maxima 


Tacitus. Annates 16.34-35. 

Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 3. II. 16; 7.19. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 58-59. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 6. 

Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum 5.8, 2f. 

. Pro Milone 28.55. 

Macrobius. Saturnalia 2.2, 9. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 55. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

d. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 436. 


(first century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Fausta and her twin brother, Faustus Cornelius Sulla, 
were children of the general and dictator Lucius Cor- 
nelius Sulla and Caecilia Metella (i) of the 
wealthy and prominent Metelli family, who bank- 
rolled part of her husband s rise to power. She was a 
half sister of Aemilia (2). Faustas first husband was 
Gaius Memmius, who served as tribune and later as 
praetor. They were divorced in 55 b.c.e. 

In 54 Fausta married Titus Annius Milo. Her 
husband's fiercest political opponent, Publius Clo- 
dius Pulcher, campaigned to become tribune while 
her husband sought election as consul. In January 
52, Fausta was with her husband when the two 
men and their entourages met accidentally on the 
street. A fight ensued, and Milo had Clodius killed. 
Milo was charged, tried, and exiled. 

Fausta remained in Rome while Milo went into 
exile. Milo asked his colleague, Marcus Tullius 
Cicero, to take care of his confiscated estate and 
provide that Fausta would secure the portion of 
the property that was reserved for her. Cicero ful- 
filled his obligations and left Fausta with modest 
means to support herself. 

Rumors swirled around Fausta. It was whis- 
pered that she had not been true to either of her 
husbands and that Milo had found her in bed with 
the historian Sallust. However, she and Milo never 
divorced, despite stories about her sexual exploits 
that continued into the last days of the republic, 
some even attributed to her twin brother. 


Asconius. Commentary on Cicero's Pro Milone 28.55 
Aulus Gellius. Noctes Atticae 17, 18. 

[b] Fausta, Flavia Maxima 

(289/290-324/325 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, Gaul, Asia, and North Africa 


Flavia Maxima Fausta died on orders of her hus- 
band, the emperor Constantine, for reasons that are 
obscure. Born in 289 or 290 c.e., she was the 
daughter of the co-emperor Maximian and his wife, 
Galeria Valeria Eutropia. Fausta and the future 
emperor Constantine signed a marriage contract in 
293 when her father sought to strengthen relations 
with Constantine after his elevation to the status of 
Caesar. Fausta was 3 or 4 years old at the time of 
the contract signing, and Constantine, 19. They 
married 14 years later in 307, by which time her 
father had once retired and then re-entered the fray 
of armed conflict in support of his son who had 
been passed over for succession. A closer union 
with Constantine, however, remained desirable. In 
311, Fausta warned Constantine that her father 
plotted to murder him while her slept. Maximian 
was seized and allowed to commit suicide. Her 
mother remained at Constantines court. 

Around 324, after Constantine became sole 
emperor, Fausta and her mother-in-law, Helena 
Flavia Julia (i), assumed the title of Augusta. 
Fausta, Eutropia, Helena, and Constantines half 
sister Flavia Julia Constantly formed a powerful 
group of independentminded and wealthy women 
around Constantine. Although nothing has been 
recorded of Faustas religious persuasion, the other 
three women were active Christians and very much 
a part of the evolving church. 

The events of the subsequent years are unclear. 
In 326 when Fausta was 36 or 37 years old some- 
thing sparked her death. Possibly at the urging of 
her mother-in-law Helena, Fausta died, scalded to 


Faustina, Aelia Flavia Maxima 

death in the baths, either by accident, suicide, or 
intention. Constantine also poisoned his popular 
son, the 20-year-old Crispus, whose dead mother 
had been Constantine's longstanding lover before 
he married Fausta. At the same time, Licinius, the 
12-year-old son of his half sister Constantia, was 
killed. Later commentators have speculated that 
Fausta had been involved in the death of Crispus 
and Licinius to protect her own sons. Alternatively, 
conflict between Fausta and her powerful mother- 
in-law may have erupted into conspiracy or con- 
frontation with Constantine. 

Fausta had three sons — Constantine II, Con- 
stantius, and Constans — and two daughters — 
Constantia, who married Callus Caesar (35 1-354), 
and Helena, who married the emperor Julian 


Epitome de Caesaribus, 41.11 ff. 

Eutropius. Breviarium ab urbe condita 6.10 

Zosimus. New History/Zosimus. A translation with com- 
mentary by Ronald T. Ridley. Canberra: Australian 
Association of Byzantine Studies, 1982, 2.29 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 167, 169-170. 

Barnes, Timothy. The New Empire of Diocletian and Con- 
stantine. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. 

[b] Faustina, Aelia Flavia Maxima 

(fourth century C.E.) 
Roman: Constantinople 


Flavia Maxima Faustina married Constantine II in 
360. He was the son of Constantine the Great and 
she was his third wife. Her husband died a year 
later in 361 while campaigning. After his death, 
her daughter Constantia (2) was born. Mother 
and daughter lived in Constantinople. A usurper, 
Procopius, led a revolt among the troops and 
claimed the title of emperor. Whether Faustina 
was or was not a part of the plot remains unknown. 
However, Procopius induced Faustina, along with 
her four-year-old daughter, to accompany him as 
he led his troops into battle. Despite his effort to 
establish legitimacy through the visible presence of 
mother and daughter, the revolt soon crumbled. 

Nothing more is known about Faustina, 
although her daughter Constantia later married 
the emperor Gratian. 


Ammiamus Marcellinus. xxi. 6, 4; (15, 6); xxvi. 7, 10; 9, 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 326. 

[b] Faustina the Elder, Annia Galeria 

(c. 94-140/141 c.e.) 

Roman: Baetica/Narbonensis, Italy, and Asia 


Annia Galeria Faustina lived a privileged life that 
brought her honor, influence, and wealth during a 
period without any wars of succession or civil 
strife. Educated and intelligent, she came from the 
new elite of distinguished provincial families that 
emerged with the emperor Trajan and became the 
Antonine dynasty. She was the daughter of Marcus 
Annius Verus, consul in 126 c.e. Her mother, 
Rupilia Faustina, was descended from republican 
nobility. At about 16 years old, around 110, she 
married the future emperor Antoninus Pius. They 
had four children, two sons and two daughters, 
one of whom was the younger Faustina, the future 
wife of the emperor Marcus Aurelius. 

Faustina's husband was twice her age and very 
wealthy. They lived primarily on their estates in 
Italy and in the oldest settled parts of Spain and 
Gaul. They traveled together, and she accompa- 
nied her husband to Asia for his proconsulship. 
Some 1 8 years after her marriage, her husband was 
chosen by Hadrian as his successor. Hadrian 
adopted her husband, and her husband, in turn, 
adopted both the later emperor Marcus Aurelius 
and Lucius Verus to establish a line of succession. 
When it became obvious that Verus would not 
become the next emperor, her husband left to her 
the delicate negotiation that arranged for their 
daughter Faustinas marriage to Marcus Aurelius, 
instead of to Verus as had been originally planned. 


Faustina the Younger, Annia Galeria 

Becoming the imperial couple dramatically 
transformed their lives. Although always wealthy 
there nonetheless was a significant difference 
between the lifestyle of a private couple and that of 
an imperial couple. The household now included 
the feeding and housing of all those closely associ- 
ated with the emperor. Moreover, the entire house- 
hold moved with the emperor. Immediately after 
he assumed the role of emperor, it was reported 
that Faustina approached her husband about insuf- 
ficient funds for household expenses, to which he 
was said to have replied that now that he was 
emperor there would never be sufficient funds. 

The couple was always in the spotlight and faced 
with malicious court gossip. Her husband consis- 
tently ignored what he heard that suggested Fausti- 
nas sexual or other kinds of moral deficiencies. 

In 138 Faustina was honored by the Senate 
with the title of Augusta and accorded the right to 
have coins struck in her name. She died shortly 
thereafter in 140 or 141 c.e. A temple was built 
and dedicated to her with suitable endowments 
and a priesthood. In 145, her husband named a 
new charity after her, Puellae Faustinianae, for des- 
titute girls. Gold and silver statues of her voted by 
the Senate were paid for by her husband, who did 
not remarry. She left her personal fortune to her 
daughter, Faustina. 


Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Antoninus Pius 1.7; 3.8; 5.2; 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 142, 144, 145. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 99. 

Syme, Ronald. Tacitus, 1 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1958, p. 605. 

[b] Faustina the Younger, Annia Galeria 

(125/130-175 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, Asia, Gaul, and Germany 


Faustina was born between 125 and 130 c.e. to the 
emperor Antoninus Pius and the elder Faustina. 

On both sides of her family she came from provin- 
cial nobility, and her parents intended that she be 
the wife of her father s successor. She was originally 
affianced to Lucius Verus, but her mother arranged, 
after her father became emperor, that she instead 
wed her cousin Marcus Aurelius. The agreement 
took place in 139. They married in 145. One of 
their daughters was Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla. 

Faustina was intelligent, well educated, and 
independently wealthy since childhood, with an 
inheritance from her mother who had unexpect- 
edly died in 140 or 141 c.e. An active woman, she 
traveled widely with the emperor despite regular 
pregnancies and the birth of 12 children. Faustina 
was granted the title of Augusta and the right to 
mint coins in 147. During her lifetime she accrued 
additional titles from cities around the empire. 
Her presence, with one of her young daughters, at 
the German front in Sirmium where her husband 
was campaigning near the Danube between 170 
and 174, led to her title "Mother of the Camp." 

From fragments of Faustina's letters to her hus- 
band reported in the ancient sources, it is clear that 
they regularly discussed the affairs of state, even 

Annia Galeria Faustina the Younger 

(Date: 161 C.E.-175 C.E. 1944.100.49230, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 


Flaccilla, Aelia Flavia 

military affairs. They sometimes disagreed. She 
urged Aurelius to impose the fullest possible extent 
of punishment on Gaius Avidius Cassius, the 
supreme military commander in the East who 
raised a revolt. Her husband, however, granted 
clemency to Cassius's family. 

She was the most visible woman in the empire 
and always subject to gossip. On more than one 
occasion she was denounced to the emperor for 
treason or adultery. When faced with one such 
accusation, the emperor was said to have responded 
that if he were to divorce Faustina, she could 
reclaim her dowry, and since his position as 
emperor rested on his adoption by her father, he 
wondered whether he would have to return to her 
the empire. 

Faustina died suddenly in 175 far from home in 
Cappadocia near the Taurus Mountains. Marcus 
Aurelius had her consecrated by the Roman Senate 
and established an endowment for poor girls in her 
name, as one had been endowed in the name of 
her mother. 


Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Aurelian. 6.2.6; 19.2—9; 
26.5-9; 29.1-3. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 141-147. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. By Simon Homblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1966, p. 99. 

[b] Flaccilla, Aelia Flavia 

(?— 386 c.e.) Roman: Spain, Constantinople 

Aelia Flavia Flaccilla, first wife of Theodosius the 
Great, had gold, silver, and bronze coins issued 
with her portrait wearing the diadem (royal pur- 
ple headband) and the imperial fibula (brooch) 
that signified the power and authority to rule. 
She was the first woman raised to the rank of 
Augusta since the reign of Constantine the Great 
early in the century, and never before had the 
iconography of the coins suggested the public 
assimilation of imperial power into the status of 

Flaccilla's portrayal on the coinage reflected a 
conscious imperial policy to promote a family 
dynasty. Flaccilla came from an elite Spanish fam- 
ily and married Theodosius in 376, during his 
temporary retirement from the army and imperial 
service. She became Augusta about 384, after 
Honorius was born. He was her third child. Her 
son Arcadius later became emperor in the East. 
Her daughter Pulcheria died when she was only 
nine or ten years old. 

Flaccilla was a devout and orthodox Christian 
and, amid the splintered and competing Christian 
factions of the times, never hesitated to use her 
position on behalf of the orthodox agenda. She 
dissuaded her husband from meeting the respected 
Arian bishop Eunomlius of Cyzicus, fearful that he 
would influence the emperor. She followed the 
new Christian path of women's piety and provided 
aid for the poor and sick, as well as widows and 
orphans. Modeling her behavior on scripture and 
on the efforts of women across the empire to give 
substance to Christianity, she deviated radically 
from her elite upbringing and visited hospitals, 
personally feeding the patients. Her humanitarian 
efforts gained her popular favor and contributed to 
the reorienting of women's virtuous behavior by 
moderating Roman imperiousness based on birth 
and class with the new orthodoxy of Christian 
classless rhetoric. Her daughter-in-law Aelia 
Eudoxia and her granddaughter Pulcheria effec- 
tively combined the new piety to expand the power 
and authority of imperial women encapsulated in 
the images of Flavia on the imperial coinage. 

Flavia died in Thrace in 386. Gregory of Nyssa, 
bishop of Constantinople, delivered an eulogy that 
claimed the empire felt her death more than earth- 
quakes, floods, or wars. A statue in her honor was 
erected in the house of the Senate. 


Gregory of Nyssa. Oratorio funebris in Flaccillam 

Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica. 7.6.3. 

Theodoret. Historia Ecclesiastica. 5.18, 2-3; 19. 

Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopedia of the Ancient World: Classi- 
cal Tradition, Vol. 5, edited by Manfred Landfester et al. 
Boston: Brill, 2002, p. 448. 



Holum, Kenneth G. Theodosian Empresses: Women and 
Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: Univer- 
sity of California Press, 1982, index. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 341-342. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie d. 
Classischen Altertumswissenschaff 1 893 (Germany: mul- 
tiple publishers) VI. (1909) 2,431-2,433. 


(first century b.c.e/ 
self-made woman 

Roman: Rome 

Flora, whose origins, status, and family remain 
unknown, was so beautiful that the rich and illus- 
trious Caecilius Metellus included a portrait of her 
among the decorations in the Forum's ancient 
temple of Castor and Pollux, with which his family 
was associated. 

She was the lover of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus 
(Pompey the Great), an often-married man whose 
appeal to women was well attested by the caring and 
devotion of his wives. Flora was reputed to have said 
that she never left the embraces of Pompey without 
the marks of his teeth to evidence his passion. She 
refused the advances of Pompey's friend Geminus, 
claiming devotion to Pompey. Geminus went to 
Pompey, who offered no opposition. To her great 
distress, he also ended his affair with her. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pompeius 2.3. 

(?-2l6 B.C.E.) 


Roman: Rome 

Floronia was one of the six Vestal Virgins serving 
in 216 b.c.e. in the temple ofVesta, one of the old- 
est temples in the Forum. She and a sister priestess, 
Opimia, were convicted for licentious behavior. 
Floronias lover, Lucius Cantilius, a scribe and a 
member of a minor order of the priestly college, 
was beaten to death. She was either buried alive or 
committed suicide before she could be entombed. 
The improper behavior of the Vestals was con- 
sidered a harbinger of ill omen for the city. The 

devastating defeat of the Romans by Hannibal and 
the Carthaginians at Cannae in the same year was 
perceived as retribution for Floronia and Opimia's 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 22.57.2—5. 


(first century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Italy 

Fulvia was a member of a prominent Roman fam- 
ily and socialized with the political elite of her day. 
Her lover was Quintus Curius, also from a promi- 
nent family. Curius had financial problems, and it 
was rumored that Fulvia needed more money than 
he could provide. After he was ejected from the 
Senate, Curius joined the conspiracy led by the 
thwarted patrician Lucius Sergius Catiline in 63 b. 
c.e. From his boastful and threatening behavior, 
Fulvia drew from Curius information about the 
developing conspiracy. 

Catiline was in debt and had failed in his 
attempts to win high office. He began to organize 
discontented veterans and small landowners. He 
was joined by a group of men and women from 
respectable and even elite families who also suf- 
fered from the effects of inflation on fixed incomes. 
They planned to take over Rome. 

Fulvia arranged with Marcus Tullius Cicero, 
consul in 63, to act as a conduit of information 
about the conspiracy. Cicero promised Fulvia that 
her lover Curius would be rewarded for his role as 
informant. As their situation became more desper- 
ate, Catiline and his conspirators decided to set fire 
to Rome and murder Cicero. The plot failed. Ful- 
via informed Cicero of the planned attempt on his 
life. Catiline left Rome, and he and his followers 
were declared public enemies by the Senate. Julius 
Caesar convinced the Senate that Curius should 
not receive the large reward that had been prom- 
ised by Cicero. 

Catiline was killed in battle, and five of his ring- 
leaders were executed in Rome after Cicero 
obtained written evidence of their plot. Nothing 
more is heard of Fulvia. 


Fulvia (2) 


Sallust. Bellum Catilinae 23.3 ff.; 26.3; 28 2. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 49. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 67-69. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie d. 

Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893. (Germany:mul- 

riple publishers) 113. 

Hj Fulvia (2) 

(?— 40 b.c.e.) Roman: Italy and Greece 
political player 

Fulvia was indomitable and fearless. She had an 
implacable determination and possessed a spirit 
and strength of character unmatched by any of her 
three husbands. Among the many strong and inde- 
pendent women of the late republic, Fulvia holds a 
unique position. She alone among these Roman 
women crossed the gender boundary and stepped 
into the male preserve of military action during 
civil war. 

Fulvia was the wealthy daughter of Marcus Ful- 
vius Bambalio and Sempronia, both from atrophy- 
ing ancient families. Her mother was the sister of 
Sempronia (2), who was said to have had a part in 
the conspiracy of Lucius Sergius Cataline in 63 
b.c.e. Fulvia's first husband was the brash, tempes- 
tuous, and sometimes brilliant aristocrat Publius 
Clodius Pulcher. His oratory in favor of populist 
positions was supported by armed bands in his tri- 
buneship of 58 b.c.e. 

Clodius again campaigned for tribune while a 
bitter enemy, Titus Annius Milo, campaigned for 
consul. They accidentally met on the road in Janu- 
ary 52. Fulvia was with her husband surrounded 
by their retinue. A dispute ensued, and Milo had 
Clodius killed. Fulvia brought Clodius's body back 
to Rome, where she placed it in the courtyard of 
their house and incited the crowd with a display of 
his wounds. The body was carried into the Senate 
and burned as the Senate house itself caught fire. 

Milo was tried. He was defended by Marcus 
Tullius Cicero, consul in 63 and the man responsi- 
ble for thwarting the earlier conspiracy led by Cat- 

iline in which Fulvia's aunt may have had some 
part. There was a history of enmity, however, 
between the opposing sides in the trial. Nearly a 
decade earlier, Cicero had spoken on behalf of the 
prosecution against Clodius, who had been caught 
in the house of Julius Caesar disguised as a woman 
during the women-only rites of the Bona Dea. 
Rumor had it that Clodius was there for an assig- 
nation with Caesar's wife, Pompeia (i). He was 
declared innocent by a heavily bribed jury. Clodius 
became Cicero's sworn enemy; as tribune in 58, he 
secured Cicero's exile. At the trial, Fulvia testified. 
She also arranged the public lamentations of her 
mother, among others, that aroused the sympa- 
thies of the onlookers. Milo was convicted and 
sent into exile. Cicero transferred his enmity from 
Fulvia's husband to her. 

With Clodius, Fulvia had a daughter, Claudia 
(5), and a son, Publius Claudius, who later became 
praetor. Her second husband was Gaius Scribonius 
Curio, tribune in 50 b.c.e. and another brilliant 
orator. He became an ally of Julius Caesar from 
whom he received a large monetary gift. He served 
under Caesar in 49 and was killed in a military 
campaign in Africa. Their son, Scribonius Curio, 
was executed by Octavian after his victory at 
Actium in 31 b.c.e. 

After her second husband's death, Fulvia mar- 
ried Mark Antony by 45 b.c.e. A year later, in 44, 
Cicero accused Fulvia and Mark Antony of taking 
bribes and selling properties and favors for vast 
sums of money. The attack was directed against 
Fulvia. Cicero claimed that Fulvia conducted 
property auctions in the women's quarters of Anto- 
ny's house and that Antony preferred an avaricious 
Fulvia to the Roman Senate and people. In Janu- 
ary 43, enemies of Antony, led by Cicero, attempted 
to have the Senate declare Antony a public enemy. 
Fulvia, her mother-in-law, Julia (2), and their sup- 
porters visited the houses of key senators during 
the night to secure their vote against the motion. 
The next morning, dressed in mourning clothes, 
they buttonholed senators on their way to the Sen- 
ate with lamentations and cries. Their claim that it 
was contrary to Roman law to declare a citizen a 
public enemy without a trial, no doubt persuaded 


Fulvia (2) 

some. All in all the women enabled Antony's sup- 
porters to defeat the bill. 

After Antony's defeat at Mutina in April 43, 
however, he left Italy and was declared an outlaw 
by the Senate. In Rome, Antony's enemies insti- 
tuted a series of lawsuits against Fulvia to deprive 
her of her property. Titus Pomponius Atticus 
Cicero's closest friend and one of the wealthiest 
and most generally respected men in Rome, aided 
Fulvia. He accompanied her to court, provided the 
necessary surety to assure her future legal appear- 
ances, and lent her money without interest or 
security to enable her to make the payments due 
on the estate that she had purchased before Anto- 
ny's exile. 

Fulvia worked to enhance Antony's position in 
relation to the two other members of the ruling 
Second Triumvirate, Octavian and Lepidus. In 43, 
when the triumvirate was formed, Claudia, Fulvia's 
daughter with Clodius, was to become the first 
wife of Octavian and cement the alliance. The tri- 
umvirs proscribed Cicero, and he was killed on 
December 7, 43. It was said that his head was sent 
to Fulvia and Antony. The ancient sources are uni- 
formly hostile to Fulvia and embroidered her 
response to Cicero's death in gruesome detail. They 
depict her as avaricious and cruel. Her avarice was 
specifically blamed for the death of Quintus Salvi- 
dienus Rufus. After his name appeared on the lists, 
he offered her his house, said to be the reason she 
had had him proscribed. It was to no avail. He was 

Proscriptions raised needed money as well as rid 
the triumvirs of real and imagined enemies. Still, 
money was a problem. At one point, the triumvirs 
ordered the 1,400 richest women in Rome to pro- 
vide an evaluation of their property preparatory to 
a special tax. The women protested. The women's 
arguments, as articulated by Hortensia, spoke to 
their unique position. They argued that this was 
not a war against an outside enemy, as had been 
the war against Hannibal when women willingly 
surrendered their personal wealth. This was a civil 
war in which husbands and sons fought against 
brothers and cousins. This was not their war, 
according to the women. They were supported by 

Antony's mother, Julia, and by the independent- 
minded Octavia (2), who was Octavian's sister, 
but not by Fulvia. 

Lucius Antonius, the brother of Antony, became 
consul, along with Publius Servilius, in 41, while 
Antony went to the East. Fulvia and Lucius worked 
together closely in Antony's interests. They largely 
dominated the political scene in Rome. They espe- 
cially sought to assure Antony honor for the distri- 
butions to the troops, since he, not Octavian, had 
been responsible for the defeat of Brutus and Cas- 
sius at the battle of Philippi in 42. Their anti-Octa- 
vian policy extended into the prosperous regions of 
Umbria, Etruria, and the Sabine country north of 
Rome. They attempted to form a coalition there of 
soldiers and property owners against Octavian after 
protests against Octavian's confiscations for the 
resettlement of veterans. 

Furious at Fulvia's opposition, Octavian offi- 
cially divorced Claudia in 41, after a two-year mar- 
riage that was never consummated. She had been a 
child at the time of the union, which was primarily 
a politically symbolic act, as was the divorce. Octa- 
vian also publically read a copy of the pact Antony 
had made with the soldiers in Rome who were 
against war and demanded a settlement. With 
Antony still in the East, however, Fulvia backed 
Lucius Antonius in support of the Italian cities 
against Octavian. The Perusine War ensued. Lucius 
Antonius marched into Rome without opposition 
and then left to advance north in order to link up 
with Antony's generals, who controlled the Gallic 

Fulvia and Lucius Antonius sent messages to 
Antony. They urged his generals in Italy and Gaul 
to assist them. Octavian was in a precarious posi- 
tion both on land and at sea. If Antony's cohorts 
had united against him, Octavian could not have 
received reinforcements and most probably would 
have been defeated. However, without direct 
instructions from Mark Antony, most of the gen- 
erals did not act. Lucius Antonius went to the 
ancient city of Perusia north of Rome, where he 
was surrounded by the forces of Octavian. Fulvia, 
who was not in Perusia, persuaded some of Anto- 
ny's forces to aid Lucius. 


Fulvia (2) 

Octavian launched a vitriolic and obscene attack 
on Fulvia as the main instigator in the Perusine War 
since she was the most vulnerable. Octavian feared 
to offend Antony, and Lucius Antonius's republican 
principles made an attack on him equally undesir- 
able. Lucius Antonius surrendered early in 40, and 
Octavian appointed him governor of Spain in order 
to maintain good relations with Antony. Fulvia fled 
to Greece with her children. Antony blamed her no 
less than had Octavian. He left her in the city of 
Sicyon, where she became ill and died. 

Fulvia and Antony had two sons. The eldest, 
Antyllus, was executed on Octavian's orders after 
Antony's defeat at Actium. The other, Iullus Anto- 
nius, was brought up in the household of Octavia, 
the emperor's sister and Antony's wife after divorc- 
ing Fulvia. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 3.51; 
4.29.32; 5.14, 19, 21, 33, 43, 50, 52, 55, 59. 

Asconius. Commentary on Cicero's Pro Milone 
Cicero. Orationes Philippicae 2.44, 113; 5.4, 11; 6.2, 4. 
Dio Cassius. Roman History 46.56.4; 47.8.2-5; 48.4.1-6; 

5.1-5; 6.1-4; 10.2-4; 12.4; 15.2; 28.3-4. 
Martial. Epigrammata 20. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Antonius 10.3—5. 
Babcock, Charles L. "The Early Career of Fulvia." American 

Journal of Philology 86 (1965), pp. 1-32. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, index. 
Delia, Diana. "Fulvia Reconsidered." In Womens History 

and Ancient History, ed. by Sarah B. Pomeroy. Chapel 

Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 

Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 614. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie d. 

Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893. (Germany:mul- 

tiple publishers) 113. 
Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 

University Press, 1963, index. 



Galeria Fundana 

(first century C.E.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Galeria Fundana both suffered poverty and enjoyed 
imperial wealth over the decades of a tumultus 
marriage with Aulus Vitellius, emperor for nine 
months before Vespasian in 69 c.e. She has been 
lauded in the sources for her probity and modesty 
in the face of both adversity and excess. Galerias 
father had been a praetor, but little else is known 
of her family. She married Vitellius after he 
divorced his first wife, Petronia. They had two 
children, a girl and a boy. 

By all accounts her husband was a spendthrift. 
By the time of their marriage, he had already gone 
through the money accumulated from an African 
command and had divorced his first wife when she 
refused to give him access to her fortune. His casu- 
alness with money was combined with lusty appe- 
tites. He was well known in Rome for his 
overindulgence in drink and food. The emperor 
Servius Sulpicius Galba offered him the command 
of troops in Lower Germany at a moment when he 
had no other apparent future and was hounded by 
debt collectors. 

Vitellius raised the funds to equip himself with 
a mortgage on his house. He also took from his 
mother, Sextilia, some pearls to pawn or sell. 

Galeria and their children remained in Rome in 
straitened circumstances living in the rather poor 
rented quarters of a tenement. She faced his 
unhappy creditors. 

Vitellius was declared emperor by his forces in 
Lower Germany while Marcus Salvius Otho was 
declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard in 
Rome. Galeria and her mother-in-law were in dan- 
ger as the opposing forces prepared to meet each 
other. Vitellius sought to protect them with a letter 
to the brother of Otho threatening to kill him and 
his children if his family was harmed. After a tense 
period in which Galeria and Sextilia remained 
unharmed, Vitellius's army defeated Otho outside 
of Rome. 

No happier in splendor than in poverty, Galeria 
moved into Nero's palace with Vitellius. Over the 
next months, Vitellius spent huge amounts on 
food, drink, and entertainment in which Galeria 
took as little part as possible. She, was not, how- 
ever, without influence. As emperors go, Vitellius 
was far from among the most bloodthirsty, though 
he did kill some of Othos supporters. The sources 
credit Galeria for protecting Trachalus, an adviser 
to Otho who may well have been her earlier 

The weaknesses of Vitellius were eventually his 
undoing, and the armed forces in varying parts of 



the empire revolted and rallied around Vespasian. 
Vitellius was killed in December 69. Galerias 
young son was also killed, but Galeria and her 
daughter were unharmed. Vespasian made a fine 
match for her daughter and even provided her 
with a dowry. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Vespasian 14. 
Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Vitellius 6. 
Tacitus. Historiae 2.60, 64. 

(D Galla 

(?— 394 c.e.) Roman: Italy Constantinople 
political player 

Galla was young and very beautiful when she 
became the second wife of Theodosius the Great 
after his first wife, Flaccilla, died. Galla offered 
the middle-aged emperor an opportunity to cement 
a dynastic relationship between the Eastern and 
Western parts of the empire through her deceased 
father, the Western emperor Valentinian I. 

However, Justina, Galla's mother, had her own 
political plans for which her desirable daughter 
was the perfect bargaining chip. Galla had fled 
with her mother and her brother, Valentinian II, to 
Thessalonica in northern Greece after the usurper, 
Maximus, invaded Italy. The price of her marriage 
was the support of Theodosius against Maximus 
and in favor of the restoration of Valentinian II in 
Italy and as emperor of the West. Since both Theo- 
dosius and Galla desired similar ends, the marriage 
was never in doubt. 

Like her mother, Galla was most likely an Arian 
Christian. Her relationship with her stepson, the 
future emperor Arcadius, was, on at least one occa- 
sion, stormy. After an argument, she was forced to 
leave the palace. 

She bore three children, but only one sur- 
vived — Galla Placidia born in 388/389. Galla 
died from a miscarriage in 394. 


Cassiodorus. Variarum x. 21.24 (a. 535; letters sent to 

Theodora by Gudeliva) . 
Procopius. Gothic Wars Y. iv. 1—31. 
. Secret History. 

Brill's New Pauly. Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. Vol. V 
Classical Tradition. Edited by Manfred Landfester, in 
collaboration with Hubert Canick and Helmut Sch- 
neider. Boston: Brill, 2006, p. 667. 

Bury, J. B. History of the Later Roman Empire: From the 
Death of Thodosius L to the Death of Justinian. Vol. I. 
New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1958, p. 198. 

Holum, Kenneth G. Theodosian Empresses: Women and 
Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: Univer- 
sity of California Press, 1982, pp. 45-46. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 382. 

[H Gallitta 

(first century B.c.E.-first century c.e.) 
Roman: Rome and Germany 


Gallitta was caught in the paradox of the Julian 
laws. Intended to uphold traditional values, the 
leges Juliae, passed in 18 b.c.e. and expanded in 9 
c.e., all but forced a husband to prosecute his wife, 
for adultery, since he would otherwise open him- 
self to the charge of procuring. 

Gallitta, the wife of a military tribune, had an 
affair with a centurion. Her husband had reported 
this to the legate of the consul, who in turn told 
the emperor Trajan. The centurion lover was ban- 
ished. The husband, now satisfied and still in love 
with his wife, did not bring any charges against 
her. But in Roman legal logic, no husband could 
condone adultery by his wife unless he gained a 
financial return from her sexual activities. In that 
case he would be not her husband but her pimp 
and could be prosecuted by a third person under 
the charge of procuring. Gallittas husband, there- 
fore, faced a serious threat of prosecution. 

Instead, Trajan punished Gallitta. The emperor 
ruled that she should be banished to an island and 
forfeit half her dowry and one-third of her prop- 
erty. Her fate could have been worse. She could 
have been condemned to death and all of her prop- 
erty confiscated. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 6.31. 



Berger, Adolf. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Roman Law. Phila- 
delphia: American Philosophical Society, 1953, p. 352. 

Gardner, Jane F. Women in Roman Law and Society. Lon- 
don: Routledge, 1995, pp. 127-131. 

Glaphyra (I) 

(first century b.c.e. 
political player 

Greek: Asia Minor 

Glaphyra from Cappadocia, in Asia Minor, met 
the Roman general Mark Antony in 41 b.c.e. 
when she was in the court of the ruler of Com- 
mona. They had an affair. Sources credit her with 
his decision to appoint her son, Archelaus, ruler of 
Cappadocia in 36. She was the grandmother of 
Glaphyra (2). 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 5.7. 
Dio Cassius. Roman History 49.32.3-4. 
Martial. Epigrammata 1 1.20. 

(D Glaphyra (2) 

(first century B.c.E.-first century c.e.) 
Greek (probable Roman citizen): Cappadocia 
and Judaea 


Glaphyra married three times into ruling families. 
She was a beautiful and smart woman, the daugh- 
ter of Archelaus, ruler of Cappadocia, and the 
granddaughter of Glaphyra (i), who was said to 
have had an affair with the Roman general and tri- 
umvir Mark Antony. Her first husband was Alex- 
ander, the son of Mariamme I and Herod the 
Great. Her father-in-law was the ruler of Judaea 
and closely associated with the Roman Julio-Clau- 
dians. Glaphyra and Alexander had two sons, Alex- 
ander and Tigranes. The latter became ruler of 
Armenia (6—12 c.e.). 

Glaphyra was not popular among the Jews. 
Proud of her elite birth, she flaunted her higher 
status in relation with the other women of the 
court. In 6 b.c.e., her father-in-law, Herod, exe- 
cuted her husband for conspiring against him. 
Herod returned Glaphyra's dowry and made clear 
that she was no longer welcome in Judaea. She 

returned to Cappadocia and married the learned 
king Juba II of Mauritania after the death of his 
wife, Cleopatra Selene. They divorced, and she 
returned again to Cappadocia. 

Her third husband was Archelaus II, the son of 
Malthace and Herod and the half brother of her 
first husband. They met after the death of Herod, 
when Archelaus visited her father in Cappadocia. 
He had inherited and ruled part of his father's 
kingdom. He divorced his wife in order to marry 
Glaphyra. The marriage created political problems 
for her new husband. He was a Jew, and it was 
considered an offense against the Torah for him to 
marry a woman who had been the wife of his half- 
brother and with whom she had had children. Gla- 
phyra died soon after the marriage. Before her 
death, she was said to have dreamed that her first 
husband forgave her. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 7.341, 

. Bellum Judaicum (Jewish Wars) 1.476, 552—53; 

Jones, A. H. M. The Herods of Judaea. Rev. ed. Oxford: 

Clarendon Press, 1967, index. 
Perowne, Stewart. The Later Herods, pp. 22—23, 58. 

[b] Glycera 

(fourth century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Athens and Babylon 
self-made woman 

Glycera was acknowledged as the most beautiful 
woman of Athens. She went to Babylon at the 
behest of Harpalus, a Macedonian, who was a life- 
long friend of Alexander the Great. Harpalus was 
physically handicapped and could not serve as a 
foot soldier. Alexander appointed him as treasurer 
headquartered in Babylon when he left to cam- 
paign in India. Harpalus, who was said to have 
believed that Alexander would never return, he 
embezzled large sums of money to support an 
extravagant lifestyle. Prior to Glycera, he had lived 
with Pythonice, another Greek woman of great 
beauty, whom he treated well and for whom he 
gave a splendid funeral and erected a monument 



when she died. He did no less for Glycera who also 
lived in great splendor until Alexander returned 
and discovered Harpalus's misuse of funds. Harpa- 
lus fled with money and some soldiers. He bribed 
the Athenians, including Demosthenes, in an 
attempt to gain asylum in Athens. Refused, he fled 
to Crete, where he was murdered. Glycera's death 
is unrecorded. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 13.586c. 

Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 17.108.4—8. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Sparta 

Gorgo has been portrayed in the sources as 
smarter and wiser than the men around her. She 
was the only child of Cleomenes I, ruler of Sparta 
(520-490 b.c.e.) . After the death of her father, 
perhaps by suicide, she married Leonidas, a step- 
brother of her father, who succeeded him as ruler 
in 490. 

Gorgo was an astute and steadfast advocate of 
the Greek cause against the Persians at a time when 
their conflict dominated the future of the West. She 
was only eight years old when Aristagorus, tyrant of 
Meletus, came to Sparta in 499-98 to obtain 
Cleomenes' support, ostensibly to free the Greek 
settlements in western Asia Minor from Persian 
rule. In their final meeting, Aristagorus came to the 
house of Cleomenes, and found him in a room 
with Gorgo. He asked to speak to Cleomenes pri- 
vately, but Cleomenes told him to speak in front of 
his daughter. Aristagorus offered Cleomenes a bribe 
of 10 talents to betray his fellow Greeks and raised 
the offer as Cleomenes remained firm. Gorgo 
turned to her father and urged him to leave the 
room or he would certainly be corrupted by the 
everincreasing amount of money. Cleomenes left 
the room. 

Later prior to the invasion by the Persian king 
Xerxes, Demaratus, a Greek exile living in the Per- 
sian city of Susa, discovered the Persian plan to 
invade Greece and sent a message of warning. He 

inscribed his message on wood and then laid it 
over with wax. When the tablet arrived in Sparta, 
Gorgo suggested removing the wax to see if a mes- 
sage lay beneath it. The Spartans sent word of the 
plan to the other cities in Greece. 

It was Gorgo's husband, Leonidas, who held 
the pass at Thermopylae in one of history's most 
famous battles. He secured the retreat of the main 
body of his troops while he fiercely counterat- 
tacked with his small remaining force. He held off 
the Persians for two critical days before he was 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 5.51; 6.75; 7.205, 239. 
Burn, Andrew Robert. Persia and the Greeks: The Defense of 

the West, c. 546-478 ft C. New York: St. Martin's Press, 

1962, pp. 199,394. 


(first century c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Gratilla followed the Stoic philosophy. Her hus- 
band, Junius Arulenus Rusticus, a well-known dis- 
ciple of Stoicism, was executed by the emperor 
Titis Flavius Domitian in 93 c.e. after he had writ- 
ten in praise of two earlier Stoics: Thrasea Paetus, 
who had been condemned by the emperor Nero, 
and Helvidius Priscus, who had been executed by 
the emperor Titus Flavius Vespasian. Gratilla went 
into exile, following in the footsteps of the two 
praised Stoics' women: the younger Arria and 
Fannia (2). 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 3.11; 5.1. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 
political pawn 

Greek: Macedonia 

Gygaea was the daughter of Amyntas, ruler of 
Macedonia, and the sister of Alexander I (495-50 
b.c.e.), with whom she lived. Bubares, a Persian, 
arrived to investigate the deaths of several Persian 
envoys said to have been murdered by the Mace- 



donians on orders from Alexander for insulting Sources 

Macedonian women at a banquet. Her brother Herodotus. The Persian Wars 5.21; 8.136. 

sidetracked the investigation by arranging a mar- Burn, Andrew Robert. Persia and the Greeks: The Defense of 

riage between Gygaea and Bubares, accompanied the West, c. 546-478 B.C. New York: St. Martin's Press, 

by a substantial dowry. Gygaea had a son, Amyn- 1962, p. 134. 

tas, who governed the city of Alabanda in south- Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

west Asia Minor. Publishers, 1985, p. 15. 





(seventh century b.c.e.) 
choral leader 

Greek: Sparta 

Hagesichora led a women's chorus in Sparta dur- 
ing the second half of the seventh century b.c.e. 
Described in the sources as beautiful with golden 
hair, she probably came from an elite family whose 
daughters took leadership positions in the religious 
festivals that marked the Spartan calendar. 

Traditionally Spartan choruses of 10 women, 
accompanied by the flute and divided into 2 parts, 
sang poetic hymns to the gods. Hagesichora led 
one of the five-voice sections. It remains unclear if 
she sang or only performed other tasks of direction 
and production. Also uncertain were the relation- 
ships among the women. They appear to have been 
loving, sensual, and possibly erotic. 


Bing, Peter. Games of Venus: An Anthology of Greek and 
Roman Erotic Verse fom Sappho to Ovid. New York: 
Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1993, (Alcman, frag. 

Bowra, C. M. Greek Lyric Poetry from Alcman to Simonides 
2d. ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967, pp. 30-65. 

Fantham, Elaine, et al. Women in the Classical World. New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 12-15. 

Page, Denys L. Alcman: The Partheneion. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1951. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, p. 55. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 
mother oflsocrates 

Greek: Athens 

Hedyto married Theodoras, a very rich man living 
in Athens during the 430s and 420s b.c.e. Her 
husband owned a workshop in which slaves made 
flutes. She had five children, one of whom, 
Isocrates, became a famous philosopher and rheto- 
rician. His system of teaching rhetoric profoundly 
influenced education in writing and speaking. 


Davies, J. K. Athenian Propertied Families, 600—300 B.C. 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, p. 246. 

[b] Hegesipyle 

(sixth— fifth century b.c.e.) 
Thracian: Thrace and Athens 
mother ofdmon 

Hegesipyle, the daughter of Olorus, a wealthy 
Thracian ruler, married Miltiades (c. 550-489 b. 
C.e.), a member of the aristocratic Athenian family 
in the Philaidae. Their marriage strengthened the 
family links between Athens and Thrace. Her hus- 


Helena Flavia Julia (I) 

band's father and grandfather had ruled over Cher- 
sonesus (Gallipoli), on the Thracian peninsula, 
under the suzerainty of Athens. In 524, Hippias, 
the tyrant of Athens, sent her husband to rule in 
his family's tradition. Hegesipyle gave birth to 
Cimon, who became a famous Athenian statesman 
and soldier, and to Elpinice. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cimon 4.1. 

[H] Helena 

(c. late fourth century b.c.e.) 
Roman: Egypt, Alexandria 

Helena was a painter who learned her craft from her 
painter father, Timon. She worked in the period 
after the death of Alexander in 323 b.c.e. Helena 
painted a scene of Alexander the Great defeating the 
Persian ruler, Darius, at the Battle of Issus in south- 
ern Asia Minor. The painting, exhibited in Rome, 
has not survived. Possibly, she created a mosaic copy 
of the painting that has been found in Pompeii. 
However, the attribution remains disputed, primar- 
ily on the grounds of gender, since other mosaic 
work by women has not been uncovered. 


Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. III. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 63-66 

[a] Helena Flavia Julia (I) 
(?-327 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, Germany, Judaea, Asia, and Syria 
Augusta; early Christian 

Helena lived during a period of significant religious 
change. The daughter of an innkeeper from Drepa- 
num in Bithynia, an area in northwest Asia Minor, 
she was a convert to Christianity, a supporter of the 
Arian cause, and an influential actor at the court of 
her son Constantine. She has been credited with 
introducing her son to Christianity, influencing him 
to end Christian persecution, and acting as a media- 
tor to achieve compromise at the Council of Nicaea. 

The lover or perhaps an early wife of Constan- 
tius, she gave birth to the future emperor Constan- 
tine in the military city of Naissus on the Danube 
in 285 C.e. Constantius either divorced or simply 
left Helena to marry Flavia Maximiana Theodora, 
the daughter or stepdaughter of Maximian. Con- 
stantius's new father-in-law became co-Augustus at 
the behest of the emperor Diocletian in 293 and 
appointed Constantius as his second-in-command 
with the title of Caesar in the West. 

Thirteen years later, in 306 c.e., her son Con- 
stantine became emperor. She and her son had 
remained close as he followed his father to power. 
She grew wealthy with extensive properties in 
Rome. Over the course of decades, she generously 
supported the troops and friends around her son 
and helped finance the construction of Constan- 
tine's new capital, Constantinople. She assumed 
the title of Augusta along with Flavia Maxima 
Fausta, Constantine's wife, in 324. 

She also became a devout Christian. At the time 
of Constantine's rise to power, the position of Chris- 
tianity in the empire was still uncertain, and its 
adherents were subject to periodic persecution. 
Some tradition has ascribed to Helena the conver- 
sion of her son, who was said to have marked his 

Helena Flavia Julia (I) 

(Archives, American Numismatic Society) 


Helena, Flavia Julia (2) 

soldiers' armor with a cross to test the power of the 
new God at the battle of Milvian Bridge in 3 12. His 
victory was also the victory of Christianity. Helena, 
however, was influenced by the bishop Eusebius, as 
was Flavia Julia Constantia, Constan tines half sis- 
ter, and both were Arians at a moment when the 
Arian movement posed the greatest threat to the 
unity of the church. Helena not only used her 
wealth to support the Arian cause, but it was said 
that she played a critical role in the agreement at the 
Council of Nicaea, which averted a schism. 

In 326 a scandal occurred, the details of which 
are obscured. Constantine authorized the execu- 
tion of his 20-year old son, Crispus, who was the 
child of his lover, Minervina, born prior to his 
marriage with Fausta. He also had Fausta killed or 
compelled her to commit suicide. Tradition has 
implicated Helena in the deaths. There is no evi- 
dence that Fausta shared Helena's devotion to 
Christianity, and she may have challenged Helena's 
Christian coalition. Possibly, Helena suspected 
Fausta of trying to gather a basis of support to 
assure the succession of one of her own sons. 

Immediately after the tragedy, Helena, probably 
now in her late 70s, made a pilgrimage to Jerusa- 
lem where she supported the building of churches 
and shrines. She died in 327 in Constantinople. 
She was buried in Rome. 


Eusebius. Vita Constantini. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 165-170. 

Barnes, Timothy. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, 1981, pp. 220-221. 

Barnes, Timothy. The New Empire of Diocletian and Con- 
stantine. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. 

Lane Fox, Robin. Pagans and Christians. New York: Alfred 
A. Knopf, 1987, pp. 309-311, 670-671. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 7. 

[U Helena, Flavia Julia (2) 

(?-360 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, Constantinople, Gaul 


Helena, the daughter of Flavia Maxima Fausta 
and Constantine the Great, married Julian in 355, 

soon after he became Caesar with authority over 
Britain and Gaul. Her husband, who had been 
raised an Arian Christian, had spent time in Ath- 
ens studying Neoplatonism and had personally 
rejected Christianity. It remains unclear whether or 
not Helena was aware of her husband's religious 
and philosophical positions; she was, however, 
likely to have been fully cognizant of the political 
reasons for her marriage. 

Eusebia, Augusta and wife of Constantius II, 
promoted the marriage to a reluctant Constan- 
tius. The office of Caesar and marriage with Hel- 
ena provided an opportunity for Julian to prove 
himself in wars against the Alamanni and the 
Franks, far from Constantinople. Failure in battle 
would probably lead to his death and remove a 
potential rival, while success would provide a 
husband for Helena and an effective general for 

Constantius was Julian's stepuncle. His father, 
Julius Constantius, was a half brother to Constan- 
tius's father, Constantine I. Constantius was also the 
brother of Helena. Named after her famous grand- 
mother, Helena, she was born in Constantinople 
and was several years older than Julian. She had a 
tempestuous youth. Her mother, Fausta, had been 
killed by her father in 326, for unknown reasons. 
Her sister Constantina married Hanniballianus 
from Asia Minor, who died violently. After her 
father's death, her three brothers warred with one 
another until only Constantius was left to rule. 

Eusebia promoted Helena's marriage, but grew 
increasingly fearful that Helena's children would 
pose a threat to Constantius. After their marriage 
Helena accompanied her husband on campaigns 
into Gaul, and ancient gossip has attributed to 
Eusebia a part in Helena's subsequent miscarriage 
and stillbirth. Julian, however, was an able general 
and realized Constantiuis's greatest fear of becom- 
ing a potential rival. He was declared emperor by 
his troops shortly before Helena's death in 360. 


Ammiamus Marcellinus. XV. 8, 1; XVI. 10, 18. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 409-410. 


(U Helvia 

(second-first century b.c.e.) Roman: Italy 
mother of Cicero 

Helvia's famous child, Marcus Tullius Cicero, was an 
orator, a statesman, and consul in 63 b.c.e. Although 
he was a prolific letter writer who had no hesitation 
in praising those he admired, he never referred to his 
mother and only sparingly to his father. The reasons 
remain unclear. She came from a respectable family 
that had social and economic connections in Rome. 
She married Marcus Cicero, the son of Marcus 
Cicero and Gratidia. Her husband came from a well- 
to-do family based near the town of Arpinum about 
70 miles from Rome. Marcus was not a well man, 
and he spent a great amount of his time in study. 

In addition to Marcus, born on January 3, 106, 
their second son, Quintus, was born about two 
years later. The family moved to Rome while the 
children were still young with the intention of pro- 
viding them the best possible education. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cicero 1.1. 
Shackleton Bailey, D. R. Cicero. New York: Charles Scrib- 
ner's Sons, 1971, p. 4. 

lated the Torahs kinship law for legal marriage. 
Antipas feared a revolt and had John killed. At 
Salome's request, he gave her John's head as a 
reward for dancing at a party. 

Antipas ruled Galilee and Peraea (Transjordan) 
from 4 b.c.e. to 39 c.e. Herodias became furious 
that her brother, Agrippa, had received a higher 
status than her husband, who had served Rome 
longer. In 39 she persuaded her reluctant husband 
to go with her to Italy where he sought the same 
status as her brother from the emperor Caligula. 
Her brother sent a letter to Caligula accusing 
Antipas of plotting against the life of the former 
emperor Tiberius, among other treasonable 
actions. Caligula banished Antipas to Gaul but 
offered to allow Herodias to keep her property and 
avoid banishment when he found out that she was 
Agrippa's sister. Herodias, however, rejected the 
offer and went into exile with her husband. 


Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae (Jewish Antiquities) 18.109— 

11; 136.240-55. 

Grant, Michael. The Jews in the Roman World. New York: 

Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973, p. 125. 
Perowne, Stewart. The Later Herods, index. 

[b] Herodias 

(first century c.e.) 

Jewish: Judaea, Italy, and Gaul 

loyal wife 

Herodias was the sister of Agrippa I, ruler of 
Judaea. Her brother's friendship with the emperor 
Gaius Caligula saved her life and fortune. Her 
brother had grown up in Rome as a close friend of 
Drusus Julius Caesar, the son of the emperor 
Tiberius. He was also a friend and client of the 
future emperor Gaius Caligula, who made him 
ruler over part of the territory once ruled by his 
grandfather Herod the Great. 

Herodias was the daughter of Berenice (i) and 
Aristobulus IV, and the grandniece of Herod the 
Great. Herodias's first husband was her stepuncle 
Hero. Their daughter was named Salome. Wid- 
owed, she married Antipas, the stepbrother of her 
first husband and another of her stepuncles. She 
was his second wife. Her husband was attacked by 
John the Baptist, who claimed the marriage vio- 

[a] Herpyllis 

(fourth century b.c.e.) Greek: Greece 
companion of Aristotle 

Herpyllis became the companion of the great phi- 
losopher Aristotle after the death of his wife, Pyth- 
ias. One of their sons was named Nichomachus 
after Aristotle's father. Aristotle named his greatest 
work, the Nichomachean Ethics, after their son. 

When Aristotle died, he left his property to 
Herpyllis and the two children. He appointed 
Nicanor, who served under Alexander the Great, 
executor. The executor was instructed to care for 
Herpyllis and, should she choose, to help her find 
a suitable husband. The will offered her a choice of 
one of the two houses that Aristotle owned plus a 
sum of money and five servants. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 13.589c. 

Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 5.1, 



Flaceliere, Robert. Love in Ancient Greece. Trans, by James 
Cleugh. New York: Crown Publishers, 1962, p. 125. 

[b] Hipparchia 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) Greek: Greece 

Hipparchia was born in Maroneia, in the northeast- 
ern part of Greece. She and her brother, Metrocles, 
adopted the philosophy of the Cynics. She threat- 
ened suicide unless her parents allowed her to marry 
Crates of Thebes (c. 365-285 b.c.e.), the leading 
proponent of Cynicism. Her parents asked Crates to 
dissuade her. Crates was said to have removed his 
clothes and stood before her to ask her if she was pre- 
pared to choose a helpmate naked in body and with- 
out any worldly possessions. She married him. They 
traveled together and lived a life of Cynic poverty, 
exhorting others to renounce their possessions for a 
simple life free of entanglements. Only this way, they 
claimed, could one achieve independence, peace, 
happiness, and reconciliation in midst of troubled 
times, wars, and social chaos. 

Hipparchia matched her wits with challengers. 
Theodoras, an atheist, challenged her in an argu- 
ment at a banquet. She asserted that any act not 
considered wrong when undertaken by Theodoras, 
would also not be wrong when done by her. Thus, 
if Theodoras struck himself, then she did no wrong 
if she too struck him. When he asked whether she 
was a woman who gave up the loom, she was said 
to have replied that time spent weaving the threads 
of her mind and educating herself was more impor- 
tant than time spent weaving cloth. 


Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, p. 136. 

[a] Hipparete (I) 

(sixth— fifth century b.c.e.) Greek: Athens 
independent wife 

Hipparete divorced the famous Athenian states- 
man Pericles by mutual consent after five years of 


marriage. Hipparete had two sons with Pericles, 
Xanthippus and Paralus. Her second husband, 
Hipponicus, was the son of the beautiful and 
maligned Elpinice and the nephew of the renowned 
Cimon. Hipponicus was enormously wealthy after 
he inherited his fathers silver mines. They had two 
children, Hipparete (2), and a son, Callias. The 
daughter married the general Alcibiades. 

Contrary to some reports, Hipparete's divorce 
from Pericles had nothing to do with Aspasia, who 
only became a part of Pericles' life five years later. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pericles 24.5. 
Davies, J. K. Athenian Propertied Families, 600—300 B.C. 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, pp. 260-263. 

Hipparete (2) 

(?-4 17/4 16 b.c.e.) 
rich Athenian 

Greek: Athens 

Hipparete sought unsuccessfully to end her mar- 
riage with the Athenian statesman Alcibiades. Her 
father, Hipponicus, was the wealthiest man in Ath- 
ens. After her grandfather died, her father inherited 
the family property, including silver mines. Hippa- 
rete's mother, Hipparete (i), was the divorced wife 
of Pericles, Athens's most famous ruler. 

Hipparete married Alcibiades sometime in the 
late 420s b.c.e. and was said to have been a proper 
and affectionate wife to her brilliant and mercurial 
husband, who led the Athenian navy to victory at 
Cyzicus in 421. Both charming and handsome, 
her husband was notorious for his sexual exploits 
and pranks, some of which were incorporated into 
several of Plato's Socratic dialogues. Nonetheless, 
Hipparete had every reason to expect from her 
husband the respect due to a well-born wife and 
adherence to the expected social proprieties. After 
he repeatedly brought prostitutes into their home, 
she fled to her brother's house. On her own, in a 
show of public independence, she went to register 
her divorce. Alcibiades intercepted her en route 
and forcibly carried her across the public market 
back into his house. 

Alcibiades's interest in maintaining his marriage 
may have had more to do with money than affec- 
tion. Hipparete had a dowry of 20 talents. The 


sum was huge when one considers that the total 
revenue of Athens in 431 b.c.e. was estimated at 
1,000 talents. Under Athenian law, Alcibiades 
would have been forced to return the money had 
they divorced. Half of the dowry had been given at 
their marriage, and the second half would come 
due upon the birth of a son. Hipparete died shortly 
after the birth of that son in 417 or 416 b.c.e. 


Andocides. On the Mysteries 4.14. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Alcibiades 8.2—6. 

Davies, J. K. Athenian Propertied Families, 600—300 B.C. 

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, pp. 19, 259-261. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, p. 90. 

Hispala Faecenia 

(second century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Hispala Faecenia was a celebrated hero of Rome 
who provided the information that uncovered a 
major religious scandal in 186 b.c.e. She had taken 
a young man of means, Publius Aebutius, for a 
lover. He was the only son of Duronia and ward of 
his stepfather, Titus Sempronius Rutilus, whom his 
mother adored. Duronia conspired to avoid the dis- 
covery of Rutiliuss misuse of her sons inheritance. 

Aebutius revealed to Hispala that his mother 
planned to have him become an initiate of the Bac- 
chic cult. Hispala was horrified. While still a slave, 
Hispala had attended Bacchic rites with her mis- 
tress. The secret cult, in which membership was said 
to be limited to those under 20 years old who had 
sworn to engage in unusual sex, robbery, and even 
murder, was believed to include some 7,000 people 
in Italy. She warned Aebutius that his mother and 
stepfather were out to destroy his reputation and 
made him promise not to be initiated into the rites. 
When he told his parents that he refused to be initi- 
ated, they threw him out of their house. 

Aebutius related the story to his aunt, who 
advised him to go to the consul. Taken seriously by 
the authorities, they turned to Hispala for details. 
Finally persuaded to reveal information about the 
rituals in exchange for protection from retributory 

violence, she moved into a safe space above the 
household of the consul's own mother-in-law. 

When presented with the facts, the Senate 
voted to execute the men found guilty of partici- 
pation in the rites. The women implicated in the 
scandal were turned over to their families for pun- 
ishment. The Senate voted 100,000 sesterces as a 
reward to Hispala and Aebutius. In addition, she 
was given the right to alienate her property and to 
marry any man of free birth. Moreover, it was 
decreed that the consuls and other officials should 
protect her. She left her property to Aebutius 
when she died. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 39.8—14, 19. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 37-43. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 35-37. 

(D Hispulla 

(first century c.E.) 
affluent woman 

Roman: Italy 

Hispulla was part of the well-to-do and educated 
circle of men and women who lived primarily on 
their estates as they struggled with the political 
uncertainties of the late Julio-Claudian period. She 
was the wife of Corellius Rufus, a close friend of 
Pliny the Younger. Her husband was afflicted with 
a progressively painful gout, evidently inherited 
from his father. He told Pliny that the only reason 
he chose to continue to live in great agony was to 
outlive the emperor Domitian, whose reign of ter- 
ror lasted from until 96 C.E. and left many of his 
friends dead or in exile. 

In his 67th year, with Domitian dead, her hus- 
band could no longer endure the pain and decided 
to end his life by fasting. Hispulla and her daugh- 
ter, Corellia Hispulla, tried to dissuade him but 
to no avail. Hispulla then sent for Pliny as their 
last hope. As he ran to her house, a messenger met 
him with the news that Rufus could not be 
deterred, and his friend died shortly thereafter. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 1.12. 


Honoria, Justa Grata 

[b] Honoriajusta Grata 

(c. 417/418 c.E.-c. 452 c.e.) 
Roman: Italy, Constantinople 

Strong-willed and intelligent, Justa Grata Honoria 
followed in the footsteps of her mother, Aelia 
Galla Placida. She refused to play a secondary 
rule to her younger, incompetent brother, the 
emperor Valentinian III, and her intent to rule 
threatened the empire. 

After her father, Constantius III, died on Sep- 
tember 2, 421, Honoria and her siblings remained 
in Ravenna, Italy, with her mother the widowed 
Augusta Placidia, who exercised great influence 
over her ineffectual half brother, Honorius, the 
new emperor. Rumors of a plot by Placidia to 
replace Honorius caused conflicts that threatened 
violence and in 423 Honoria fled with her mother 
to the emperor Theodosius II and his powerful sis- 
ter, Pulcheria, in Constantinople. 

Honorius died on August 14, 423. A usurper 
named John seized power in the West. Theodosius 
and Pulcheria found it in their interest to strike an 
agreement with their aunt Placidia. They recog- 
nized Valentinian, who was Honoria's younger 
brother, as the legitimate emperor of the West. 
Theodosius also recognized Placidia's title of 
Augusta. Theodosius gained authority over Dal- 
matia and a part of Pannonia previously held by 
the Western emperor. To seal the agreement, the 
infant child of Theodosius and Aelia Eudocia, 
Licinia Eudoxia, was betrothed to the child- 
emperor Valentinian, with the marriage to take 
place when both came of age. 

Honoria left with her mother and brother Val- 
entinian for Italy accompanied by an army sent by 
Theodosius to overthrow the usurper. Although 
temporarily shipwrecked in the Adriatic Sea off the 
coast of Dalmatia, they successfully reached Italy. 
The army defeated and executed the usurper 
emperor John and on October 23, 425, in Rome, 
Valentinian became Augustus. Shortly thereafter, 
Honoria received the title Augusta, and gold coins 
were issued in her honor. For the first time on a 
coin a female child wore the diadem of a royal 
headband with a scepter of purple representing 


royal authority. Possibly it was done to assure she 
would become regent for her younger brother in 
case her mother died while he was still a minor. As 
she grew older, she also received her own estate on 
the grounds of the palace in Ravenna and a per- 
sonal fortune. However, the long-planned mar- 
riage of her brother on October 29, 437, to Licinia 
Eudoxia, the daughter of Aelia Eudocia and Theo- 
dosius II, came to fruition and introduced another 
woman into the Western imperial circle. Eudoxia, 
moreover, bore two daughters over the next few 
years further distancing the ambitious Honoria 
from a dynastic and political role in the empire. 

Honoria took a lover, Eugenius, a low-born man- 
ager of her estate. Possibly, she was pregnant. More 
probably, the story of a lover and the inference of a 
pregnancy was part of an ancient literary trope for a 
conspiracy to unseat her brother. The tale has ele- 
ments that reach back to Julia, the daughter of 
Augustus, and Livilla, during the reign of Tiberius, 
when lovers were part of elite women's participation 
in imperial conspiracies. 

In 449, Eugenius was executed and Honoria was 
exiled from the palace and betrothed, against her 
will, to Flavius Bassus Herculanus, a very wealthy 
Roman senator, who had no designs on the throne. 
Honoria, however, was not deterred. In 450, she 
secretly requested support from Attila, king of the 
Huns, through Hyacinthus, a trusted eunuch, to 
whom she also entrusted a ring to guarantee the 
authenticity of her message. Attila claimed the ring 
was an offer of marriage. He responded with a letter 
to Theodosius II in Constantinople that demanded 
Honoria as a bride and half of the Western empire 
as her dowry. Theodosius instructed his half brother 
Valentinian to hand Honoria over to Attila, osten- 
sibly to prevent an attack by the Huns. Instead, 
Valentinian tortured and killed Hyacinthus. He 
would have also executed Honoria but for the inter- 
vention of her mother. She instead lost only her 
symbol of power, the diadem. 

In 451, Attila invaded and was barely repulsed 
at Chalons. In 452 he again invaded to claim Hon- 
oria as his bride. He captured cities in his path and 
destroyed Aquileia, but he could not overcome 
plague and food shortages, which sent him into 


retreat. He died the following year without having 
claimed Honoria, and Honoria disappears from 


Jordanes. Getica. 223, 224. 

Olympiodorus. Fragments. 34. 

Priscus. Fragments. 2, 7, 8, 15. 

Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastical. 16. 2. 

Theophanes. Chronicle. AM 5943. 

Bury, J. B. "Justa Grata Honoria," Journal of Roman Studies 
9 (1919): pp. 1-13. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 568-569. 


(first century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Ho rati a 

(seventh century b.c.e.) 
war victim 

Roman: Rome 

Horatia's story comes from the period of early 
Roman history when fact and myth are inexora- 
bly intertwined. As it is told, marriage between 
Horatia and a son of the Curiatii family from 
nearby Alba Longa, southwest of Rome, had 
been arranged. In a battle with the Curiatii, two 
of her three brothers died. Her remaining brother 
killed her fiance. Horatia met her brother as he 
returned from battle and recognized the cloak he 
carried from the body of his slain opponent. She 
had made that cloak for her soon-to-be husband. 
She cried. Her brother drew his sword and killed 

When her brother was brought to trial, her 
father, Publius Horatius, justified his son's actions 
and declared he would have killed Horatia had his 
son not already done so. No Roman woman who 
mourned for an enemy of Rome deserved to live. 
Her brother was acquitted but was forced to do 


Livy. From the Founding of the City. 1 .26. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, pp. 152-153. 

Hortensia was an orator. She was well educated 
and articulate. Her father was the famous Roman 
orator Quintus Hortensius (114-50 b.c.e.). She 
was also a wealthy woman and was the chosen 
spokesperson to argue against a special tax levied 
against women in 42 b.c.e. 

The triumvirs Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus 
were hard-pressed for cash. Needing to overcome a 
shortfall of some 200 million drachmas for war 
preparations, they published an edict requiring 
1,400 of the wealthiest women to make an evalua- 
tion of their property and to donate a portion to the 
triumvirs. In usual fashion, anyone found to be con- 
cealing information would be fined, and informers, 
whether free or slave, would be rewarded. 

The women objected and successfully enlisted 
support from Livia Drusilla and Octavia (2), 
respectively, the wealthy and independent wife and 
the stepsister of Octavian. They were repulsed, 
however, by Fulvia (2), the wife of Mark Antony 
and the woman most directly engaged by the mili- 
tary aspects of war. United, they marched into the 
Forum where Hortensia spoke for all of them. 

She declared that the women had not been 
involved in any actions against the triumvirs and 
should therefore not be penalized. Why, she asked, 
should women pay taxes, since they could not be 
involved in politics or the military and therefore 
could not share in the honors and wealth that men 
acquired? If Rome were fighting a foreign enemy, 
the women would have no hesitation in support- 
ing the government with all means in their power. 
But this was a civil war, and women should not be 
required to give aid in a conflict between Roman 
citizens that men had fomented. Hortensia pointed 
out that such an assessment had never before been 
demanded in the whole history of Rome. 

The crowd supported them. Despite their evident 
anger, the triumvirs eliminated the tax for all but 400 
of the women and in addition levied a tax on all men 
who owned more than 100,000 drachmas. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 4.32-34. 



Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri 1X8.3.3. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 81-83. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, pp. 175-176. 

(D Hydna 

(fifth century b.c.e.) Greek: Scione 

Hydna was a Greek heroine in the war against the 
Persians in 480 b.c.e. She was the daughter of 
Scyllis, from Scione, a city on a peninsula in the 
Thracian Sea controlled by Athens. She learned to 
swim and dive as a child alongside her father. 
When the Persians attacked the Greeks, Xerxes 
anchored the Persian fleet off Mount Oelion. Dur- 
ing a storm, Hydna and her father swam to the 
fleet and, diving underwater, cut a number of the 
ships' anchor ropes. Many of the ships drifted and 
were tossed on the rocks and sank. 

Statues of Hydna and her father were dedicated 
at Delphi. Her statue may have been plundered by 
the emperor Nero and carried off to Rome in the 
first century c.e. 


Pausanias. Description of Greece 10.19.1—2. 
Harris, H. A. Sport in Greece and Rome. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cor- 
nell University Press, 1972, pp. 112-113, 124-125. 

[a] Hypatia 

Greek: Alexandria, Egypt 

Hypatia is the best-known woman mathematician 
and philosopher from the Greco-Roman world. 
Born in 370 c.e., she followed in the footsteps of 
her father, Theon, to direct the Mouseion and 
library in Alexandria. Hypatia was a Platonist, 
although her most notable work was most likely in 
mathematics, not philosophy. 

She probably collaborated with her father on his 
commentary of Ptolemy's Almagest and possibly 

composed commentaries on Ptolemy's astronomy. 
Also with her father she produced a new version of 
Euclid's Elements, which became the standard edi- 
tion of Euclid into contemporary times. Hypatia 
wrote commentaries on Arithmetica, composed by 
the earlier philosopher Diophantus, and on the 
Conies written by Appollonius. Extant letters from 
the bishop Synesius of Cyrene, Hypatia's former 
student, suggest that she developed a new or better 
astrolabe (an ancient astronomical instrument used 
to determine measurements in relation with the 
Sun) and a hydroscope (a device designed to allow 
for the study of objects underwater). 

Hypatia was part of the pagan elite around the 
Roman prefect Orestes in his conflict with the 
bishop Cyril. In many ways she personified the 
complicated role of sexuality in early Christianity 
that simultaneously allowed women previously 
unimagined alternatives and damned the pagan 
idealism and rationality of platonic thought. Her 
public visibility incensed the Christian fanatical 
fringes for whom female sexuality was the cause of 
man's fall from God's grace. In 415, either with 
Cyril's encouragement or as a result of the atmo- 
sphere he nurtured, Hypatia was dragged from her 
chariot and attacked by a band of Christians, prob- 
ably monks, who literally tore her limb from limb. 


John Malalas. Chronicle 359. 

Suda. 166. 


Deakin, Michael. Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician 

and Martyr. Amherst, Mass: Prometheus Books, 2007, 

Dzielska, Maria. Hypatia of Alexandria. Translated by F. 

Lyra. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 

1995 , passim. 
Jones, A. H. M., ed. Prosopography of the Later Roman 

Empire. Vol. II. Cambridge: Cambridge University 

Press, pp. 575-576. 
O'Connor, J. J., and E. E Robertson. Hypatia of Alexan- 
dria. Printonly/Hypatia.html, pp. 1-3. 
Rist, J. M. "Hypatia," Phoenix. Vol. 19.3. Toronto: Trinity 

College Press (Autumn 1965) pp. 214-225. 
Wider, Kathleen. "Women Philosophers in the Ancient 

Greek World," Hyaptia. Vol. 1. Bloomington: Indiana 

University Press (Spring 1986) pp. 21-57. 




(second-first century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Ilia was the first wife of the young Lucius Corne- 
lius Sulla, the future dictator of Rome. Her hus- 
band married increasingly rich and well-connected 
women as his career soared. Ilia probably died after 
the birth of their only child, Cornelia (4). 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Sulla 6.10. 


(first century C.E.?) 
self-made woman 

Greek: Thespiae 

Ismenodora snatched a much younger man for her 
husband. A wealthy and beautiful young widow 
who lived in Thespiae, a city in central Greece, she 
fell in love with Bacchon, the son of a relative and 
friend. The friend had asked Ismenodora to arrange 
a suitable marriage for the boy, but she was not 
enthusiastic about the idea of the much older and 
richer Ismenodora becoming the boys wife. 

Bacchon, shy and still a minor, sought advice. 
He found no consensus. Ismenodora, convinced 

that his hesitation was primarily embarrassment, 
took matters into her own hands. She invited to 
her house some of her women and men friends 
who favored the marriage. When Bacchon walked 
by, which he invariably did, they dragged him in, 
locked the doors, put on wedding garments, and 
the couple were married. 


Plutarch. Moralia: Amatorius 749d-750a; 745h-755b. 


(fifth century b.c.e.) 
loyal wife 

Greek: Athens 

Isodice was probably the second wife of Cimon, an 
Athenian statesman and soldier of renown. She 
came from the aristocratic Athenian family of the 
Alcmaeonidae. Her father was Euryptolemus, a 
son of Megacles. Isodice's husband was grief- 
stricken at her death. She had for certain one son, 
Callias, and possibly bore an additional three chil- 
dren, all boys. 


Diodorus Siculus. Library of History 10.31. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cimon 4.8-9; 



HI Julia (I) 

(?-68 b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
brave woman 

Julia was descended from a patrician family. When 
she died, her nephew Julius Caesar used the occa- 
sion to glorify himself by tracing her ancestry to 
the gods. Her mother was a Marcia from the fam- 
ily of the Marcii Reges, the ancient kings of Rome. 
Julia married Gaius Marius, a noted general and 
statesman. Her husband held seven consulships 
before he died in 86 b.c.e. She had one son, also 
named Gaius Marius, born in 1 10 b.c.e. 

Julia's life was worthy of her lineage. She sup- 
ported her husband in the tense and sometimes 
violent confrontations of his political career. She 
was often alone, honored by some and despised by 
others. She managed the difficult time of her hus- 
band's illness, and after Marius's death, she 
remained a symbol for the Marians. Julia opposed 
her son's consulship of 82 b.c.e. She was convinced 
he was being used for his name by the Marian 
forces. Events proved her fears well founded. Her 
son led an army against Lucius Cornelius Sulla and 
was defeated. He committed suicide. 

After Sulla's victory Julia remained in Rome, 
both vulnerable and proud. She may have sup- 
ported Caesar as he left the city after he refused 
Sulla's terms, which included that he divorce his 

young and even more vulnerable wife Cornelia 
(5). It is also possible that she aided Cornelia, 
whose family had close ties to Marius. She survived 
Sulla's proscriptions of 81-80 and lived to see her 
nephew Caesar return from the East. She died in 

68 B.C.E. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Caesar 6.1. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 46. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 776. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 541. 

Julia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
power broker 

Roman: Rome 

Julia lived amidst the maelstrom of civil war politics 
after Caesar's assassination and played a part in the 
diplomacy of the Second Triumvirate. Her father 
was Lucius Julius Caesar, consul in 90 b.c.e. and 
censor in 89. Her aunt was Julia (i), wife and 
widow of Gaius Marius, and Julius Caesar was her 
cousin. Her mother was a Fulvia whose family had 
supported reform since the Gracchi. She married 


Julia (4) 

Marcus Antonius Creticus, praetor in 74 b.c.e., 
whom she dominated. Their eldest son, born in 83, 
grew up to become the famous triumvir Mark Ant- 
ony. A younger son, Lucius Antonius, became his 
brothers ally. After the death of her husband in 72, 
Julia married Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, con- 
sul in 71. Her second husband was implicated in 
the conspiracy of Lucius Sergius Catiline and exe- 
cuted on the orders of Marcus Tullius Cicero in 63. 

In November 43 the triumvirs undertook a pro- 
scription and issued death warrants for some 300 
senators and 2,000 equestrians. Among them was 
Julia's brother, Lucius Julius Caesar, consul in 64 
b.c.e. and the uncle of Antony, whom he had 
opposed after Caesar's murder. Faced with pro- 
scription, he took refuge in Julia's house. She 
secured his pardon from Antony and the restitu- 
tion of his citizenship. Antony was said to have 
observed that Julia was a fine sister but a very diffi- 
cult mother. 

Julia remained a widow. She lived in Rome 
when Antony was in the East with Cleopatra VII. 
Her younger son, Lucius, consul in 41, and her 
daughter-in-law Fulvia (2) were defeated in Italy 
by Octavian in the Perusine War of 40 b.c.e. Fear- 
ing retribution, Julia left Rome and took refuge in 
Sicily where she was kindly treated by Sextus Pom- 
peius, who controlled the island. Pompeius, who 
sought an alliance with Antony against Octavian, 
sent Julia with two of his envoys to Athens to meet 
Antony as he returned to Italy from the East. 

With the alliance secured, Julia accompanied 
Antony from Athens to Brundisium in Italy in 39. 
He laid siege to the city when he was refused 
admittance. War with Octavian appeared immi- 
nent. However, the troops on both sides demanded 
a settlement. Julia took part in the subsequent 
negotiations. The result was the pact of Brundis- 
ium, sealed with the marriage of Antony and 
Octavian's sister, Octavia (2). Julia was mollified 
with a letter from Octavian assuring her that she 
need not have fled Rome since she was his kins- 
woman, and that he would have seen to her safety. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 2.143; 
4.37; 5.52, 63. 

Dio Cassius. Roman History 48.15.2; 48.27.4; 51.2, 5. 
Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Antonius 1.1—3; 

2.1-2; 22.3. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 52-53. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 543. 

Hj Julia (3) 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
politically well connected 

Julia was the daughter of Aurelia (i), who came 
from the family of the Aurelii Cottae, and Gaius 
Julius Caesar, who died in 85 b.c.e. She was the 
elder sister of Julius Caesar and Julia (4). Her first 
husband was Lucius Pinarius of whom little is 
known except that they had a son, Lucius Pinarius 
Scarpus. She later married the equestrian Quintus 
Pedius and had another son, Quintus Pedius, con- 
sul in 43 b.c.e. In his will, Julius Caesar left a share 
of his fortune to her two sons. They gave their 
inheritance to Octavian, who had inherited three- 
quarters of the estate. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Caesar 83.2. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 545. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986. 

Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1963, p. 128. 

Julia (4) 
(?-51 b.c.e.; 

Roman: Rome 

Julia, along with her mother Aurelia (i), gave tes- 
timony against Publius Clodius in the notorious 
Bona Dea scandal of 62 b.c.e. Julia was the daugh- 
ter of Gaius Julius Caesar, who died in 85 b.c.e. 
Her mother came from the illustrious Aurelii Cot- 
tae. Julia was the younger sister of Julius Caesar, 
with whom she remained close throughout her 
life. She married Marcus Atius Balbus from Aricia 


Julia (5) 

and had two daughters. The eldest, Atia (i), mar- 
ried Gaius Octavius, and Julia became the grand- 
mother of Octavian, the future emperor Augustus 
and the independent Octavia (2). 

In 62, Caesar was pontifex maximus, and his 
household was the site of the celebration of the 
Bona Dea rituals presided over by Julia and Aure- 
lia. The religious rites, restricted to elite women, 
were a traditional part of the Roman pax deorum, 
which joined the well-being of the state with the 
proper performance of an annual cycle of religious 
ritual. Publius Clodius Pulcher, an aristocrat of the 
finest lineage, violated the sanctity of the female- 
only rite. He entered the household disguised as a 
woman. It was alleged that he had an assignation 
with Caesars wife Pompeia (i). Discovered and 
tried with testimony from Julia and her mother, he 
was acquitted with the help of large bribes. Caesar 
was said not to have taken the matter seriously, 
although he did divorce his wife in its wake. 

After the death of her son-in-law Gaius Octa- 
vius, Julias grandson Octavian lived with her for 
eight years from 58 b.c.e. until her death in 51. 
The 12-year-old Octavian delivered her funeral 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 4; 8. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Caesar 74.2. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 546. 
Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 

University Press, 1963, p. 112. 

Julia (5) 

(83-54 b.c.e.) 
political wife 

Roman: Rome 

Julia, born in 83 b.c.e., was the only child of Julius 
Caesar. Her mother was Cornelia (5), the young 
first wife of Caesar. Julia was to marry Quintus 
Servilius Caepio until her father and Gnaeus Pom- 
peius (Pompey the Great) established a political 
alliance (along with Marcus Licinius Crassus) in 
April 59 for which her marriage with Pompey 
formed the symbolic center. 

The union did not appear promising. Julia was 
Pompeys fourth wife. He was some 23 years her 
senior and already had adolescent sons plus a 
daughter of marriageable age. Nonetheless it 
worked. Not only did Pompey and Caesar draw 
closer together, but the sources claim that Pompey 
handed over his provinces and armies to friendly 
legates so that he and Julia could spend time on his 
estates in Italy. The sources did not approve of 
what they considered to be this dereliction of his 

Julia had a miscarriage in 55, precipitated by 
the arrival of servants carrying her husband's 
clothes splattered with blood from an altercation 
to which she later learned he was a witness, not a 
participant. She died a year later in childbirth. Her 
child died a few days later. Her death in 54 dis- 
tressed her husband, her father, and their follow- 
ers, who felt that she was the bond that kept their 
alliance alive. Indeed, that alliance dissolved within 
a few years. At the demand of the populace her 
body was carried to the Campus Martius for final 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Caesar 23.5-7. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pompeius 47.6; 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorahilium 
libri LX4.6A. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 776. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 547. 

d Julia (6) 


Roman: Italy, Gaul, and Pandateria 

political player 

Julia held a unique position in the Augustan 
empire: She was the only child of the emperor. 
Born in 39 b.c.e., her mother was Scribonia, 
whom her father divorced to marry Livia 
Drusilla. Her father ignored his own record of 


Julia (6) 

notorious divorce and second marriage to insist 
that Julia live with rules and strictures from an ide- 
alized vision of Rome's past. Brought up in the 
household of her stepmother, she was to be an 
example of women who lived lives dutifully 
devoted to father, children, husband, and kin. Her 
father insisted she be taught the ancient arts of 
spinning and weaving and discouraged friendships 
without his permission and approval. 

Julia, however, was her father's daughter in more 
ways than Augustus may have foreseen, and the 
place she sought for herself was more than as a 
model and docile wife bringing forth strong sons. 
Educated and well read, she had a sharp and witty 
tongue that challenged her father's restrictive vision 
for her life. Julia, and possibly Augustus, suffered 
the unintended consequences of their different 
expectations. Beguiled by Julia's charm and wit, 
her father underestimated her determination to 
use fully her position as Caesar's daughter. She, on 
the other hand, may have lost sight of her father's 

Julia married Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the 
son of Augustus's independent-minded sister 
Octavia (2), in 25 b.c.e. The marriage might have 
provided Augustus with a solution to his dynastic 
problems had Marcellus not died two years later. 
In 21 Julia married Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, 
Augustus's confidant, supporter, and adviser. Some 
21 years older than Julia, this was his third mar- 
riage. Moreover, to marry Julia, Agrippa divorced 
the elder Marcella, who was Julia's cousin and 
with whom he had had a harmonius marriage. 
Despite the inauspicious circumstances, Julia had 
five children over the next eight years: Gaius Cae- 
sar; Lucius Caesar; Agrippa Postumus, who was 
born after the death of his father; and two daugh- 
ters, Julia (7) and the elder Agrippina. Augustus 
adopted her three sons and brought them up as 
members of his household to prepare for 

Again widowed in 12 b.c.e., Julia married her 
father's grown stepson, Tiberius. As with Agrippa, 
to marry Julia Tiberius divorced his wife, Vipsania 
Agrippina, with whom he had had an agreeable 
relationship. The new marriage initially promised 

success, and Julia traveled with Tiberius to north- 
ern Italy when he campaigned in the Balkans, but 
the relationship quickly deteriorated. The witty 
and outgoing Julia thrived in a world distasteful to 
her husband. He was stern and disciplined, little 
given to the hothouse of gossip, intrigue, and 
power politics that was the lifeblood of imperial 
Rome. Primarily a military man, he appeared most 
comfortable with more retiring women like his 
first wife. During her husband's self-imposed exile 
in 6 b.c.e., Julia remained in Rome. Secure in her 
position as Caesar's daughter, she surrounded her- 
self with a set of friends more her own age and 
more in tune with her tastes. 

She was alleged to have engaged in a series of love 
affairs, and in 2 b.c.e., her father created a public 
scandal with a letter to the Senate in which he 
described her transgressions and named her lovers. 
They made up a formidable group and included the 
poet Sempronius Gracchus; the consul of 9 b.c.e. 
Quinctius Crispinus; the patrician Appius Claudius 
Pulcher, and Cornelius Scipio, who was her step- 
brother. Their names resonated with republican 
glory, and their probable leader was lull us Antonius, 
the son of Mark Antony and Fulvia (2), who had 
married Julia's cousin, the elder Claudia Marcella, 
in 21 b.c.e. after her divorce from Agrippa. 

Growing up in the households of Octavia, Livia, 
and the other elite women who raised the mother- 
less or fatherless children left in the wake of civil 
wars, this first postwar generation of men and 
women had probably known one another since 
childhood. By 2 b.c.e. Julia and her circle were in 
their late 30s and early 40s. Like Julia, most had 
been married more than once. Many already had 
nearly grown children and honorable political 
careers. By then Julia's father was an old man. His 
power was unchallenged, and his plans for succes- 
sion repeatedly frustrated. The viciousness with 
which he attacked Julia and her friends would pos- 
sibly suggest a political motive hiding behind the 
cloak of sexual misbehavior. 

The descriptions of Julia that have come down 
over time — soliciting in the Forum, indiscriminate 
lewdness, and multiple simultaneous relationships — 
strain credulity when compared with the evidence of 


Julia (7) 

an educated, proud, and witty 40-year old Roman 
woman who had had three marriages, was twice wid- 
owed, and had borne five children in eight years. The 
punishments meted out by her father were equally 
contradictory. He issued a decree divorcing Julia 
from Tiberius, who was still on Rhodes. When 
Tiberius wrote to ask that Julia be allowed to keep 
her personal property, Augustus refused and instead 
allowed her only a modest allowance. She was ban- 
ished to the island of Pandateria off the coast of 
Naples. Her mother, Scribonia, a woman renowned 
for her virtue, accompanied her. No man was allowed 
to visit her unless he was screened to determine that 
he was politically safe and physically unattractive. 
Her father further decreed that any illicit association 
with her, or for that matter with any woman of the 
Julian house, was henceforth high treason. 

The banishment was not popular, and eventu- 
ally Augustus allowed Julia to move to Reggio in 
southern Italy. The men said to have been involved 
with her were also exiled, with the exception of 
Antonius, who was executed. Of the other women 
in the circle, Augustus issued an edict that they 
should not be punished for indiscretions more 
than five years old. 

Julia's father died without ending her exile. His 
will specified that she should not be buried in his 
tomb. Tiberius showed no pity or kindness to her 
when he became emperor. He stopped the allow- 
ance granted her by Augustus, since the emperor 
had made no provision for it in his will. He also 
restricted her to her house and allowed no visitors. 
She died in 15 c.e. at the age of 53. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 54.6.5; 55.10.12-16, 13.1; 

56.32.4; 57.18.1a. 
Macrobius. Saturnalia 2, 5. 
Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 21.9. 
Seneca. De beneficiis 6.32.1—2. 
Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 63.1—2; 64.1— 

3; 65.1-4. 
. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 7.2—3; 11.4; 

Tacitus. Annales 1.53. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 81-87. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, index. 

Fantham, Elaine. Julia Augusti. New York: Routledge, 

Ferrill, A., "Augustus and His Daughters," pp. 332-346. 

Hallett, Judith. "Perusinae Glandes and the Changing 
Image of Augustus." American Journal of Ancient History 
2(1977): 151-171. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 776-777. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 550. 

Richlin, A. "Julia's Jokes, Galla Placidia, and the Roman 
Use of Women as Political Icons." In Stereotypes of 
Women in Power: Historical Perspectives and Revisionist 
Views, ed. by B. Garlick, S. Dixon, and P. Allen. New 
York: Greenwood Press, 1992, pp. 65-91. 

Syme, Ronald. History in Ovid. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1978, pp. 193fF. 

. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1963, index. 

Julia (7) 

(19 B.C.E.-28 C.E.) 

political victim 

Roman: Italy 

Julia suffered the same tragic fate as her mother. 
Born in 19 b.c.e., the granddaughter of Augustus, 
her birth was heralded with the promise of lifelong 
splendor. She was one of five children; her mother 
Julia (6), was the only daughter of Augustus, and 
her father, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, was the 
famous general, statesman, and confidant of the 
emperor. At her father's death, when she about 
seven years old, she and her younger siblings — 
Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar, Agrippa Postumus, 
and the elder Agrippina — came under the author- 
ity of her grandfather. He imposed on them tradi- 
tions of virtue contradicted by the realities of the 
new empire. In the face of imperial wealth and sta- 
tus, the girls were taught spinning and weaving; 
their relationships were closely controlled; and 
their future was managed. 

Augustus almost succeeded in his efforts to 
mold his granddaughter. In 4 b.c.e. Julia married 


Julia (8) 

Lucius Aemilius Paullus, consul in 1 c.e. and a dis- 
tant relation through their respective grandmoth- 
ers. Julia's mother-in-law, Cornelia (8), whose 
virtue and glory was eulogized in the poetry of 
Propertius, came from a family that embodied the 
greatness of the Roman republic. Over the next 
decade, however, tragedies followed one after 
another. In 2 b.c.e. Julias mother became part of a 
public scandal that resulted in her exile for adul- 
tery and conspiracy. Four years later her brother 
Lucius died, followed two years later by her brother 
Gaius. Her third brother, Agrippa Postumus, was 
accused of brutal rebellious behavior by the 
emperor and sent to Surrentum. The Senate later 
voted to exile him on the island of Planasia. 

In 8 c.e., exactly 10 years after her mothers 
exile, Julia too was exiled. The nature of her crime 
remains unclear. She was sent to the island of Tri- 
merus off the Apulian coast on grounds of adultery 
with Decimus Junius Silanus, a Roman aristocrat. 
At the same time, her husband, Aemilius Paullus, 
was accused of conspiracy against the aged emperor 
and executed. The poet Ovid also exiled was sent 
to Tomis on the Black Sea, a far outpost of the 
empire where he remained until his death. After 
the exile of her mother, Augustus had issued an 
edict that illicit behavior with any woman of the 
Julian clan would be considered high treason, yet 
to punish Silanus Augustus merely revoked his 
friendship with him. Silanus went into voluntary 
exile and was later allowed to return to Rome by 
the emperor Tiberius through the intervention of 
his influential brother Marcus Silanus. 

In exile, Julia gave birth, but Augustus refused 
to allow the father to acknowledge the child, and it 
was exposed on the emperor's orders. After 20 
years in exile, Julia died in 28 c.e. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 64. 1-3; 65.1, 4. 

Tacitus. Annales 3.24; 4.71. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 120-121. 
Fantham, Elaine. Julia Augusti. New York: Routledge, 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 

and Hudson, 1976, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 777. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 551. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

. History in Ovid. New York: Oxford University 

Press, 1978, pp. 206ff. 

. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford Univer- 

sity Press, 1963, index. 

Hj Julia (8) 

(?— 43 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political victim 

Julia shared the tragic fate of many women born 
with her name. She was both pawn and actor in 
the drama of succession to the emperor Tiberius 
who was her grandfather on her father's side. 
Through her mother, Livia Julia Claudia Livilla, 
she was directly descended from Octavia (2), the 
independent-minded sister of the emperor Augus- 
tus. She married Nero Julius Caesar, the older son 
of the elder Agrippina. The marriage joined the 
direct descendants of Augustus and of his wife 
Livia Drusilla in a line of succession through 
Julia's father Drusus Julius Caesar. 

When her father died in 23 c.e., succession 
became an open hunting ground among the proba- 
ble heirs. The battle for succession was dominated by 
women. Julia's mother, Livilla, was a willing player. 
Her opponent was the wily and ruthless Agrippina. 
Each sought to secure the place of emperor for her 
son. Livilla had one son, Julia's young brother, 
Tiberius Gemellus, the survivor of twin sons born in 
19 c.e. Agrippina had, in addition to Julia's husband, 
two other sons waiting in the wings. 

The married Julia was apparently close to Liv- 
illa, but her husband was not Agrippina's favorite 
child. In addition, neither one of the couple 
appears to have been politically adroit. Julia's hus- 
band was brash and indiscreet, outspokenly look- 
ing forward to his own time of power. Julia rashly 
disclosed her husband's intemperate remarks to her 


Julia Aquilia Severa 

Were not the wealth and power of the empire 
the prize, the couple's behavior would have been 
less noteworthy. However, Julia's mother had 
become the accomplice of Lucius Aelius Sejanus, 
the prefect of the Praetorian Guard. With Tiberius 
relatively secluded in Capri, Sejanus became the 
emperor's eyes and ears in Rome. His aspirations 
possibly expanded to include marriage with Julia's 
mother and even a regency over her small son. 

The tales brought by Julia to her mother were 
used as evidence by Sejanus to convince Tiberius 
that Julia's husband Nero Julius Caesar was treach- 
erous. In a letter to the Senate in 29 c.e., Tiberius 
denounced him and his mother, Agrippina, for 
plotting against the emperor. Agrippina was exiled 
to Pandateria, and Nero, to Pontia. He was put to 
death the following year. 

Shortly thereafter, Tiberius turned on Sejanus 
and accused him before the Senate of treason. He 
was executed. Julia's mother was accused and con- 
victed of being Sejanus's lover and of conspiring 
with him to poison her husband, Tiberius's son, 
eight years earlier. Released into the care of Julia's 
grandmother the younger Antonia her mother 
starved herself to death. 

Still a widow in 33, Tiberius arranged that Julia 
marry Gaius Rubellius Blandus, consul suffectus in 
18 c.e. He came from an equestrian background, 
which limited the threat any child of their mar- 
riage would pose to the existing aspirants for suc- 
cession. Although Rubellius Blandus was close to 
60, and Julia, about 30, they soon had a son, 
Rubellius Plautus. Julia however was still not safe. 
By 43 Julia's uncle Claudius had succeeded 
Tiberius. Valeria Messallina was his wife, and 
Julia posed a possible obstacle to her plans for the 
succession. Fearing a rival in anyone connected to 
the imperial family, even Julia's equestrian son, 
Messallina accused Julia of immoral conduct. She 
was put to death. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 58.8, 9; 21.1; 60.18.4. 
Tacitus. Annates 3.29.4; 6.27.1; 13.32.5; 13.43.4. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, index. 
Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 

Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press 1993, pp. 56-57. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, index. 

Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiberius. New York: Barnes 
and Noble, 1931, pp. 182, 192. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 552. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

. Tacitus. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958, 


[si Julia Aquilia Severa 

(third century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
Vestal Virgin married to emperor 

Julia Aquilia Severa was a Vestal Virgin pressed 
into marriage by the increasingly unstable emperor 
Elagabalus in 219 or 220 c.e. after he divorced 
Julia Cornelia Paula. In a letter to the Senate, 
Elagabalus wrote that not only had he fallen in 
love with Julia, but it was fitting that he, the high 
priest, should marry a Vestal Virgin, a high priest- 
ess, to create godlike children. Subsequently, he 
divorced Julia Severa, married and divorced other 
women, and then again married her in 221. Elaga- 
balus was murdered the following year. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 80.9.3—4. 
Herodian. History of the Empire 5.6.2. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 159. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 557. 

[b] Julia Avita Mamaea 

(?-235 c.e.) Roman: Syria and Italy 
power broker 

Julia Avita Mamaea successfully wielded power 
during difficult times in the third century c.e. 
Born the younger daughter of Julia Maesa and 
the consul Julius Avitus, she married Gessius Mar- 
cianus, a knight from Area Caesarea in Syria. She 
was widowed after the birth of her son, Alexianus, 
who would become the emperor Severus Alexan- 


Julia Avita Mamaea 

Julia Avita Mamaea 

(Date: 232 c.£. 1944.100.53321, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 

der. All sources agree that Julia ruled her son and 
through him the empire. 

Like her mother and her aunt, Julia Domna, 
Julia Mamaea was intelligent, strong willed, coura- 
geous, pragmatic, and power-loving. Interested in 
Christianity, she provided the theologian Origen 
with a military escort to come to Alexandria and 
deliver to her a sermon. Not surprisingly, her son, 
after he assumed power, kept statutes of Christ and 
Abraham along with the deified emperors of Rome 
in his private chapel. 

Julia Mamaeas position as the dominant impe- 
rial force in the empire was won with blood. Her 
mother had successfully plotted with Julias older 
sister, Julia Soaemias Bassiana, to make Julias 
nephew Elagabalus emperor of Rome. Once 
emperor, Elagabalus's behavior became increas- 
ingly scandalous and bizarre. Julia Soaemias not 
only failed to curb her son but appeared to revel in 
his extravagances. Julia Maesa feared that Elagaba- 
lus would be overthrown, bringing to an end her 
own position of power and influence. She then 
conspired with her younger daughter, Julia 
Mamaea, to replace Elagabalus with Alexianus. 

Julia Maesa persuaded the 16-year-old Elagaba- 
lus to adopt the 12-year-old Alexianus. His name 

became Marcus Aurelius Alexander Caesar. Julia 
Mamaea declared to the army that late emperor 
Caracalla was the father of her son, just as her sister 
had earlier claimed the late emperor father of 
Elagabalus. Keeping her nephew appeased and the 
troops well bribed, she had the younger boy tutored 
in Latin and Greek and trained to behave as an 
emperor. Within the year Julia Mamaea and her 
mother arranged for the Praetorian Guard to kill 
Elagabalus and Julia Soaemias. Alexianus assumed 
the name Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander and 
became emperor in 222 c.e. 

Julia Mamaea and her mother took up the reins 
of government in the boy's name. They gained the 
support of the Senate, establishing an advisory 
council of 16 distinguished senators. They neither 
sought the right to sit in the Senate nor to sign 
decrees and they did not object when the Senate 
abolished the right that had been granted Julia 
Soaemias. They appointed Domitius Ulpian, a dis- 
tinguished jurist, head of the Praetorian Guard 
and charged him to restore order and discipline in 
the army which had become lax and unruly under 
Elagabalus. With Ulpian's advice, they instituted 
financial reforms that increased the treasury and 
allowed them to ease the burden of taxation that 
had escalated under Caracalla and Elagabalus. 
Expenditures for the imperial household were 
modified. The corn supply was assured, and loans 
at low interest were made available from the trea- 
sury. In 223 the Praetorian Guard, angered at the 
strict discipline imposed by Ulpian, mutinied and 
pursued him into the palace. Ulpian was killed in 
spite of Severus's attempt to save him. The leader 
of the revolt was later executed. 

After the death of her mother in 224, Julia 
Mamaea alone directed Severus Alexander. She 
instituted additional needed reforms and pushed 
her son to ward behavior that was judicious and 
fair, avoiding mass executions or deportations. For 
12 years, between 222 and 235, the empire was 
largely peaceful. During this period she may have 
ended a marriage between her son and Gnaea Seia 
Herennia Sallustia Barbia Orbiana, whose name 
appeared on coins and inscriptions between 225 
and 227. The daughter of Sallustius Macrinus, 


Julia Cornelia Paula 

whom Severus Alexander had appointed Caesar, 
her father was executed for treason and Orbiana 
was sent back to Africa. 

In 233 the Persian king Artaxerxes invaded 
Mesopotamia. Julia went with her son to Antioch 
to oversee the troops. The campaign was not a 
great success, but the Persians suffered enough 
casualties to allow the Romans to regain Mesopo- 
tamia. A greater threat now took place on the 
Rhine, were German tribes invaded. Severus again 
went to the front accompanied by Julia Mamaea. 
She tried to placate the Germans rather than fight. 
The Roman army regarded her behavior as cow- 
ardly. In addition, they coveted for themselves the 
bribe money that she used to buy off the Ger- 
mans. In 235 they revolted under the leadership 
of Maximinus and murdered both Julia Mamaea 
and her son. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 79.30.2-4; 38.4; 80 

Herodian. History of the Empire. 533, 7.1-5, 8.2-3, 10; 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Alexander Severus 3.1; 14.7; 
26.9-11; 59.8; 60.1-2; 63.5. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 156-164. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 777. 

[b] Julia Cornelia Paula 

(third century c.e.) Roman: Italy 

Julia Cornelia Paula was the unfortunate first wife 
of the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Elaga- 
balus. He was the son of Julia Soaemias Bassiana 
and took his name from the sun-god of Emesa in 
Syria, for whom he was the hereditary priest. Julia 
Paula came from an aristocratic family in Rome. 
She married Elagabalus probably in the summer of 
219 c.e., when he was about 16. Her marriage to 
the young emperor may well have been an effort to 
improve relations between the emperor and the 
Senate. The nuptials were accompanied by an 

expensive celebration with elaborate banquets, 
gladiatorial contests, and the slaughter of some 51 

Julia Paula was given the title Augusta, and her 
name appeared on coins. Elagabalus, whose behav- 
ior became increasingly bizarre, divorced her 
within a year. He claimed that she had a blemish of 
some sort on her body. She returned to private life; 
her successor, Julia Aquilia Severa, would be 
hardly more successful as the emperors wife. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 80.9.1—4. 
Herodian. History of the Empire 5.6.1. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 564. 

[b] Julia Domna 

(second century-218 C.e.) 
Roman: Syria and Italy 

Julia Domna was ambitious, indomitable, and 
handsome. She came from Emesa in Syria, where 
her father, Julius Bassianus, was the priest in the 
Temple of the Sun. In 187 c.e. she married Lucius 
Septimius Severus, whom she had met earlier 
while he commanded a legion in Syria. He was 
said to have remembered that her horoscope 
matched his and sought her out after his wife 
died. North African, from an equestrian family, 
he was consul in 190 and became emperor in 
193. They had two sons: Marcus Aurelius Antoni- 
nus Caracalla was born in 188, Septimius Geta, 
in 189. 

After Septimius Severus became emperor, Julia, 
her sister Julia Maesa, and the latter s two daugh- 
ters, Julia Soaemias Bassiana and Julia Avita 
Mamaea, collected around them an interesting cir- 
cle that included the Greek philosopher Philostra- 
tus, from whom Julia commissioned a biography 
of Apollonius; the physician and medical writer 
Galen; and possibly the historians Appian and 

Early in her husband's reign, Julia traveled with 
him. She rebuilt the temple of Vesta in Rome and 


Julia Drusilla (I) 

restored a meeting hall for women erected by Vibia 
Sabina in the Forum of Trajan. Her influence on 
her husband diminished after 197 when he 
appointed Plautianus, a fellow countryman from 
Africa, as prefect of the Praetorian Guard. A cruel 
and avaricious man, he perceived Julia as his 
enemy. In 20 1 he threatened her with the charge of 
adultery. The accusation, either dismissed or never 
pursued, nevertheless curtailed her power. In 202, 
Plautianus's daughter Plautilla married her son 
Caracalla. Her son hated Plautilla as much as Julia 
hated Plautillas father. 

Julia Domna regained her former position 
when Caracalla convinced his father that Plautia- 
nus was traitor. After Plautianus was murdered on 
January 22, 205, Caracalla divorced Plautilla and 
banished her to the island of Lipara. Once more 
secure, Julia Domna and her whole family accom- 
panied her husband to Britain during his cam- 
paign of 208-1 1 . She was named Augusta and was 
also given the title of Mater Castrorum (Mother 
of the Encampment). 

After the death of her husband in 211, Julia 
Domna successfully opposed dividing the empire 
between her two sons. She worked to bridge their 
mutual hatred. In February 212, Caracalla 
requested a meeting with his brother with Julia 
present to resolve their differences. Caracalla, 
instead, sent centurions to murder Geta, who died 
in Julias arms. 

Julia Domna handled her unstable son Cara- 
calla carefully, and as a result, her relationship with 
him remained excellent. She focused him on his 
responsibilities as emperor and sought to curb his 
excessive expenditures. She spent a great deal of 
time in Nicomedea on the Black Sea in Asia Minor 
in 214—15 while her son was in the East on mili- 
tary campaigns. There she received petitions and 
answered most of the official correspondence. Dis- 
patches to the Senate were sent in her name as well 
as his. She held public receptions attended by 
prominent men who sought from her the services 
and benefits of an emperor. When Caracalla 
became disabled by venereal disease, which increas- 
ingly affected his temper, she effectively governed 
in his name. 

In April 217 Caracalla was murdered at the 
instigation of the Praetorian prefect Macrianus, 
who feared for his own life. Julia Domna received 
the news in Antioch where she was conducting the 
business of government. Initially, Macrianus 
allowed Julia to retain her guards and other hon- 
ors. She began to lay plans to overthrow Macrianus 
and rule in his stead. He became suspicious and 
ordered her out of Antioch. Ill with breast cancer 
but unwilling to surrender power, she committed 
suicide by starvation in Antioch in 218. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 76.15.6-7; 78.2.1-6; 18.2-3; 

Herodian. History of the Empire 3. 1 5.6; 4.3, 4—5. 
Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Alexander Severus 18.8. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, pp. 150-156. 
Birley, Anthony Richard. Septimius Severus: The African 

Emperor. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 

1989, index. 
Levick, Barbara. Julia Domna: Syrian Empress. New York: 

Routledge, 2007. 
Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 

Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 777. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 566. 

(D Julia Drusilla (I) 

(16—38 c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Julia Drusilla was born in 16 C.e. into a family 
plagued by misfortune. Her mother, the elder 
Agrippina, and her father, Germanicus Julius 
Caesar, were a popular couple and leading con- 
tenders in the politics of succession to Tiberius. 
Disaster struck when her father died suddenly at 
Antioch in 19 c.e. Convinced that he had been 
poisoned under orders from Tiberius, her mother 
returned to Rome and entered the fray of impe- 
rial politics. A decade later her mother and elder 
brother, Nero Julius Caesar, were accused of trea- 
son. Both exiled in 29, Nero was executed in 31, 
and her mother died by starvation in 33. Another 


Julia Drusilla (2) 

brother, Drusus Julius Caesar, imprisoned in 30, 
died in 33. 

In 33, as the reign of the ailing Tiberius was 
drawing to an end, Julia Drusilla married Lucius 
Cassius Longinus, consul in 30 c.e. After her 
brother, Gaius Caligula succeeded Tiberius, he dis- 
solved her marriage. Her second husband was 
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, the son of Marcus 
Aemilius Lepidus, consul in 6 c.e. Still clearly 
close with her brother, rumors of an incestuous 
relationship were fueled when Caligula named her 
his heir during an illness in 37. In the malicious 
gossip of the time, it was also rumored that her 
husband was her brothers lover. 

When Julia Drusilla died in 38, Caligula could 
hardly contain his grief. He enforced public mourn- 
ing throughout the empire. Although there was no 
precedent, Julia Drusilla was deified as Panthea, 
and the emperor had her statue placed alongside 
the temple statues of the traditional female deities. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 59.1 1.1— 6. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 7; 24.1-2. 

Tacitus. Annates 6.15.4. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 250. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 159-163. 

Ferrill, A. Caligula: Emperor of Rome. London: Thames and 
Hudson, 1991, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 777. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 567. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

(D Julia Drusilla (2) 

(c. 40-January 24, 4 1 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political victim 

Julia Drusilla was born in 40 c.e., either on the 
day of her parents' marriage or a month before 
they wed. She was the daughter of the emperor 
Gaius Caligula and his fourth wife, Milonia Cae- 

sonia. Her father, who was probably mad, claimed 
that her birth was sudden and therefore supernatu- 
ral. Supposedly, when she displayed her temper by 
scratching the faces of playmates, her father 
proudly claimed that by her temper he knew her to 
be his daughter. 

Drusilla died after her head was dashed against 
a wall on January 24, 41, the same day on which 
her mother and father were murdered. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 59.28.8. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 25.3-4; 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 568. 

[b] Julia Flavia 

(65—91 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
Augusta; deified 

Born in 65 c.e., Julia was the daughter of the 
future emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus by his 
second wife, Marcia Furnilla. Her parents 
divorced in 64. She was declared Augusta by her 
father during his short reign, 79-8 1 . 

Her father unsuccessfully sought to marry her 
with his brother, the future emperor Titus Flavius 
Domitian. Julia instead married her cousin Titus 
Flavius Sabinus, who was consul with Domitian in 
82 and whom Domitian executed in 84. After her 
husband's death, Julia lived openly with Domitian. 
She died in 91, and Domitian deified her. Her 
death has been attributed to an abortion. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 67.3.2. 

Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 4.11 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Domitian 22.1. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Titus 4.2—4. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 133. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 600. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 552. 


Julia Maesa 

[a] Julia Livilla 

(18-41 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, Germany, and Gaul 

political player 

Julia Livilla came from a family plagued by misfor- 
tune. She was the youngest daughter of the popular 
elder Vipsania Agrippina and Germanicus Julius 
Caesar. Born in 18 c.e., one year before her fathers 
unexpected death, her life was burdened with her 
mothers suspicions. Bringing her husbands ashes 
back from Antioch where he had died, Agrippina 
was convinced that her husband's death had been 
orchestrated by the emperor Tiberius. Scarcely a 
decade later, her mother and brother, Nero Julius 
Caesar, were charged with treason by Tiberius and 
exiled to islands off the coast. The next year, he 
imprisoned another brother, Drusus Julius Caesar. 

In 33, the same year in which her exiled mother 
starved herself to death and her brother Drusus 
died in prison, she married Marcus Vinicius, consul 
in 30 and 45. It was not a brilliant match, but it 
may have been a peaceful one. Her husband, a gen- 
tle person and a fine orator, came from an eques- 
trian background outside the eternal imperial fray. 

In 37 her brother Gaius Caligula became 
emperor. He honored all his living siblings. 
Although their sister Julia Drusilla was Caligula's 
favorite, all the siblings were subject to malicious 
gossip about incestuous relations. In 39, Julia Liv- 
illa joined other family members and accompanied 
the emperor and the army to Mainz in Germany. 
On arrival, Caligula accused them of conspiracy, 
treason, and adultery in a plot that included Julia 
Livilla, the younger Agrippina, Marcus Aemilius 
Lepidus, and the governor of Upper Germany 
Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus. Julia Liv- 
illa and her sister were banished to the Pontian 
islands. Lepidus was executed. 

When her uncle Claudius became emperor in 
4 1 , he recalled both Julia Livilla and Agrippina from 
exile and restored their property. However, Valeria 
Messallina, her uncle's wife, was fearful of Julia 
Livilla's beauty and jealous of both sisters' influence 
over Claudius. Julia Livilla was soon accused of 
adultery with Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a brilliant 

orator and philosopher. Again exiled, this time to 
the island of Pandateria, she was killed soon after. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 60.4.1; 8.4—5. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 24.3. 

Tacitus. Annales 6.15. 

Ferrill, A. Caligula: Emperor of Rome. London: Thames and 
Hudson, 1991, index. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 777. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 575. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[a] Julia Maesa 

(second century-224 c.e.) 
Roman: Syria, Asia, and Rome 
power broker 

Julia Maesa was ambitious and thrived in a world 
of intrigue populated by strong women and weak 
men. She was the daughter of Julius Bassianus of 
Emesa in Syria and the sister of Julia Domna. She 
married a Syrian, Julius Avitus, consul suffectus 
and proconsul of Asia under her brother-in-law, 
the emperor Lucius Septimius Severus. Avitus died 
during the reign of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 
Caracalla, Julia Maesa's nephew. She had two 
daughters, Julia Soaemias Bassiana and Julia 
Avita Mamaea. After the murder of Caracalla and 
the suicide of his mother, Julia Domna in 218 c.e., 
the emperor Marcus Opellius Macrinus ordered 
Julia Maesa to leave Rome and return to Emesa. 
She left with a great deal of wealth, amassed during 
the previous reigns. 

Julia Maesa plotted with her daughter Julia 
Soaemias, a widow with a son, to have the boy 
declared the child of Caracalla and thereby chal- 
lenge the legitimacy of the emperor Macrinus. The 
boy, Varius Avitus Bassianus, a very handsome 14- 
year-old, was priest of the sun-god at Emesa, a posi- 
tion that he inherited from his great-grandfather. 


Juliana, Anicia 

Julia Maesa 

(Dote: 218 C.E.-222 C.E. 1970.77.1, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 

Smuggled into the army camp along with enough 
of Julia Maesas gold to smooth the way, the sol- 
diers proclaimed him emperor. 

When Macrinus attacked, she and her daughter 
leaped from their chariots and rallied the retreating 
troops. With the young boy leading the forces, 
they defeated Macrinus on June 8, 218. Macrinus 
was killed as he fled to Rome in disguise. The boy 
immediately assumed all of the titles and honors of 
the emperor without waiting for confirmation by 
the Senate and took the name Elagabalus, after the 
sun-god of Emesa. 

The 15-year-old emperor, along with Julia 
Maesa, her daughters Julia Soaemias and Julia 
Mamaea, and their entourage, began the trip to 
Rome. Over a year later, in July 219, they 

Elagabalus's behavior became increasingly 
erratic and bizarre. Julia Soaemias, who enjoyed 
the luxurious life, failed to restrain him. Con- 
cerned that his foolishness would result in the loss 
of her own power and position, Julia Maesa con- 
spired with her second daughter, Julia Mamaea, to 
replace Elagabalus with her other grandson. They 
convinced Elagabalus to adopt his 12-year-old 
cousin Julia Mamaeas son Alexianus, and let it be 

known to the army that Alexianus was also a son of 
Caracalla. The plot succeeded. Elagabalus and his 
mother were killed by the Praetorian Guard in 
222, and Alexianus was declared emperor as Mar- 
cus Aurelius Severus Alexander. 

His mother, Julia Mamaea, now received the 
title of Augusta and carefully supervised the edu- 
cation and upbringing of her son. Since he was 
only 13, Julia Maesa and Julia Mamaea were 
unimpeded. No action was taken without the 
approval of the two women. They ruled well. They 
improved relations with the Senate by establishing 
an advisory council of 16 senators. Julia Maesa 
died two years later in 224 and was deified by her 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 79.30.2-4, 38.4. 

Herodian. History of the Empire 5.3.2—3, 9—12; 5.5—6; 6.1, 
4; 7.1-3; 8.3-4. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 
(Marcus Aurelius) 9. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 777-787. 

[Bl Juliana, Anicia 

(c. 461-527/528 c.e.) 
Roman: Constantinople 
political player 

Anicia Juliana's bloodline reached back to Theodo- 
sius the Great, which in the rapidly changing for- 
tunes of the time was a currency of legitimacy with 
incalculable value; her blood relationship with the 
Vandals, moreover, only made her more desirable. 
Juliana was the grandaughter of the Augusta 
Licinia Eudoxia and Valentinian III, emperor in 
the West. Her father, Anicius Olybrius, a member 
of an illustrious and powerful Italian family, was in 
the East when Gaiseric led the Vandals into Rome 
in 455. Her mother, Placidia, however, was in 
Rome. Her mother, grandmother, and her aunt 
Eudocia either accompanied or were taken by 
Gaiseric back to Carthage after he sacked the city. 
Gaiseric insisted that Eudocia marry his son 


Juliana, Anicia 

Huneric in accordance with a betrothal that he had 
arranged with Valentinian III years earlier before 
the latter's death. Within a few years, and no doubt 
having received a substantial payment from her 
father and, possibly, Emperor Leo I, Gaiseric 
released her grandmother and mother, who 
returned to Constantinople. 

Juliana's mother reached Constantinople in 
460 and Juliana was born in 461. In August 461, 
Gaiseric demanded that her father become 
emperor in the West. It was a self-serving, but not 
altogether impossible, demand made at a moment 
of political disarray. Majorian, emperor since 457, 
had died. Through his wife Placidia, Olybrius had 
a connection to Valentinian and the Theodosian 
line in the West. He was at least as likely a legiti- 
mate successor as anyone else, and, from Gaiseric's 
perspective, a most desirable successor, since Oly- 
brius's wife Placidia and Eudocia were sisters. It 
didn't happen. 

In 472, however, Juliana's father briefly was 
emperor of the West. The sequence of events was 
another variation of the potential for exploiting 
his wife and daughter's kinship with Eudocia and 
Valentinian. Leo I, the emperor of the East, sent 
Olybrius to settle a dispute between Anthemius, 
the emperor in the West, and Anthemius's son-in- 
law Ricimer. Leo also dispatched a secret emissary 
to Anthemius ordering Olybrius's assassination, 
since he feared the association with Gaiseric. The 
plan, discovered by Ricimer and revealed to Oly- 
brius, resulted in a vote of the Senate, in April 
472, to make Olybrius emperor in the West. 
Anthemius was killed in July 472. Olybrius died, 
the unchallenged emperor of the West, on 
November 2, 472. 

Juliana and her mother remained in Constanti- 
nople all during this period. However, even after 
her father's death, she could not escape imperial 
politics. In 478, still unmarried, the emperor Zeno 
offered her, along with a huge amount of money, 
to Theoderic, leader of the Goths. The offer was 
rebuffed. Soon after, she married Flavius Areobin- 
das. Son of a consular family, he became consul in 
506 and served as a general under the emperor 
Anastasius I in the campaign against Persia. 

Juliana and her husband were orthodox Chris- 
tians. They both supported the Chalcedon doc- 
trine which upheld the two natures of Christ, 
human and divine, conjoined yet separate. In 481, 
Zeno issued a decree to reconcile the orthodox 
position with the more moderate Monophysites, 
who never accepted the Chalcedon compromise 
and adhered to the single divine nature of Christ. 
Zeno's adviser was Acacius, the Patriarch of Con- 
stantinople, and when Zeno failed, Acacius was 
excommunicated by Felix II, bishop of Rome. The 
Acacian Schism began, lasting until 519, with 
Alexandria a stronghold of Monophytism and 
Constantinople favoring orthodoxy. During this 
period and despite imperial and church pressure, 
Juliana resisted any change in her position. 

In 5 12, when the prelate Timothy attempted to 
use a Monophysite text in St. Sophia, a mob rioted 
and marched to Juliana's house proclaiming her 
husband as emperor. He refused and the elderly 
emperor Anastasius dispersed the crowd by offer- 
ing to resign. In 519, she corresponded with Hor- 
misdas, bishop of Rome, to facilitate legates from 
the Roman bishop in Constantinople in another 
attempt to end the schism. 

Juliana was aware of her public position. She 
built a number of churches, including one dedi- 
cated to the Mother of God, and improved and 
enlarged the Church of Saint Euphemia, built by 
her grandmother Licinia Eudoxia and improved by 
her own parents. The oldest and most famous copy 
of Materia Medica of Dioscorides, an illuminated 
Byzantine manuscript now in the Austrian National 
Library, was given to her as a gift in appreciation of 
her support for the construction of a church in 
about 512. 

Juliana died in 527/528 c.e. 


John Malalas. Chronicle XIV vi., XVI. i, iii. 

Malchus. Fragments 13, 16. 

Priscus. Fragments 29, 204, 209. 1—2. 

Theophanes. Chronicle AM 6005. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited By 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 635-636. 


Julia Phoebe 

Julia Phoebe 

(first century B.c.E.-first century c.e.) 
Roman: Rome 

I attendant 

Julia Phoebe was a freedwoman of Julia (6), the 
only child of the emperor Augustus and Scribo- 
nia. When Julia was banished by Augustus in 2 
b.c.e., Julia Phoebe, who was close to Julia, com- 
mitted suicide. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 65.2—3. 

[a] Julia Procilla 

(?-69 c.e.) 

Roman: Gallia Narbonensis and Rome 

honorable woman; murder victim 

Julia Procilla died violently at the hands of maraud- 
ing soldiers in 69 c.e. She had lived a principled life 
that sought to balance study and political engage- 
ment. Born in Narbonese Gaul, her father was an 
imperial official named Julius Proculus. She mar- 
ried Julius Graecinus, an equestrian and student of 
philosophy. Her husband became a senator under 
the emperor Tiberius and attained the office of 
praetor. In 40 c.e., already irritated with him 
because of his interest in philosophy, the emperor 
Gaius Caligula had Graecinus executed when he 
refused to accuse Marcus Junius Silanus of treason. 

In the same year, Julia Procilla gave birth to a 
son, Gnaeus Julius Agricola. After the death of her 
husband, she returned with her son to Massilia 
(Marseilles), where she attended to his education. 
Later, Agricola's son-in-law, the great Roman his- 
torian Cornelius Tacitus, would write that Agric- 
ola would have immersed himself in philosophy 
had his mother not wisely tempered this inclina- 
tion and arranged that he also study more practi- 
cal arts. 

Her son became quaestor of Asia, tribune, prae- 
tor, consul, and later legate of Britain. In 69 Julia 
Procilla was murdered on her estate by plundering 
sailors of the insurgent emperor Otho. The estate 
itself was looted and a good part of Agricola's 
inheritance was lost. 


Tacitus. Agricola 4.7. 

[b] Julia Soaemias Bassiana 

(second century-222 c.e.) 
Roman: Syria and Italy 

Julia Soaemias Bassiana successfully plotted to make 
her son emperor. She was the elder of Julia Maesa's 
two daughters. Her father was Julius Avitus and her 
grandfather was Julius Bassianus, priest of the sun- 
god at Emesa in Syria. She married Sextus Varius 
Marcellus, an equestrian from Apamea in Syria 
who died leaving her with a son, Varius Avitus. 

Julia Soaemias conspired with her mother to have 
her young son challenge the rule of Macrinus, who 
had supplanted Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Cara- 
calla as emperor. Caracalla had been her cousin; his 
mother was her aunt, Julia Domna. Julia Soaemias 
and her mother had lived with them in Rome. After 
Caracalla's death the women were expelled. Using 
the large fortune her mother had accumulated dur- 
ing the reigns of Septimius Severus and Caracalla, 
she gained support from the troops in Syria after she 
declared that her son was the child of Caracalla and 
the legitimate heir. Gannys, who was her lover and 
her sons tutor, and an army soldier named Comazon 
were her coconspirators in the army camp who ral- 
lied the troops to her cause. The defeated Macrinus 
fled and was murdered on the way to Rome. 

Avitus, the hereditary priest of the sun-god 
Elagabalus at Emesa in Syria, became Emperor 
Elagabalus in 218 c.e. He was 15 years old. Imme- 
diately he assumed all the titles of the office with- 
out regard for custom, which assigned to the 
Roman Senate the right to bestow the offices and 
titles of the emperor. Julia Soaemias, her son, her 
mother, her sister Julia Avita Mamaea, Gannys 
and Comazon, and their supporters traveled to 
Rome Elagabalus carried with him the black coni- 
cal stone image of the sun-god. In Nicomedea, 
Elagabalus murdered Gannys after he attempted to 
temper the young emperor's behavior. 

When the party reached Rome a year later, in 
July 219, Elagabalus heaped honors on his mother. 


Junia (2) 

She was named Augusta and called Mater Augus- 
torum (Mother of Augustus) and Mater Castorum 
(Mother of the Encampment). Elagabalus reput- 
edly brought her into the Senate chamber. She also 
presided over a female senate that issued a set of 
rules of etiquette for women, including clothing to 
be worn in public and proper means of convey- 
ance. Elagabalus's behavior became increasingly 
erratic and scandalous as he married and divorced 
a number of women including Julia Cornelia 
Paula and the Vestal Virgin Julia Aquilia Severa 
Julia Soaemias, who enjoyed her lifestyle, made no 
attempt to curb her son. 

Her mother, Julia Maesa, determined that 
Elagabalus and her daughter must be removed 
before his troops revolted. She hatched a plot with 
her younger daughter, Julia Mamaea, to replace 
Elagabalus with Alexianus, Julia Mamaea's son. 
Julia Maesa first persuaded Elagabalus, who was 
16, to adopt Alexianus, who was 12. When Elaga- 
balus began to suspect a plot, Julia Maesa and Julia 
Mamaea had soldiers of the Praetorian Guard mur- 
der him and Julia Soaemias in Rome in 222. Their 
bodies were stripped naked and dragged all over 
Rome. Alexianus, who was 13, was proclaimed the 
new emperor, but power remained in the hands of 
the women, Julia Mamaea and her mother. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 79.30.2-4, 38.4; 80.3-6, 

Herodian. History of the Empire 533, 8.8—10. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 156-162. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 778. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 596. 

(D Junia (I) 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Junia was one of three daughters born to Servilia 
(i) and Decimus Junius Silanus, consul in 63 and 

62 b.c.e. Her sisters were Junia (2) and Junia Ter- 
tia. Her mother had been the lover of Julius Cae- 
sar, and her uncle was the republican Marcus 
Porcius Cato Uticensis. Her half brother was Mar- 
cus Junius Brutus, one of Caesar's assassins. Her 
father was dead by 57 b.c.e. her forceful mother 
who wielded power by virtue of her personality and 
connections, arranged marriages for all three sisters. 
Shortly after 61, Junia married Marcus Aemilius 
Lepidus, consul in 46 and, along with Antony and 
Octavian, a member of the Second Triumvirate. 
She had two sons, Marcus and Quintus. 

Her husband was removed from office by Octa- 
vian, and Octavians general, Gaius Maecenas, pros- 
ecuted her son Marcus for plotting to assassinate 
Octavian on his return to Rome in 30 b.c.e. He sent 
Marcus to Octavian in Actium, where he was exe- 
cuted. Maecenas also charged Junia, claiming that 
she was aware of the plot. To spare her the trip to 
Actium, Maecenas demanded surety that she would 
appear before Octavian when he came to Rome. 
Her husband went to the consul suffectus, Lucius 
Saenius, to put himself up as security for his wife or 
else be allowed to accompany her to Actium. The 
consul released Junia. Whether she subsequently 
made peace with Octavian or died is unrecorded. 


Appian. Roman History: Bella civilian (Civil Wars) 4.50. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 193. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, pp. 19,35. 

Junia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Junia was one of three daughters born to Servilia 
(1) and her second husband, Decimus Junius Sila- 
nus, consul in 63-62 b.c.e. The other two were 
Junia (i) and Junia Tertia. Marcus Junius Brutus, 
the tyrannicide, was her half brother, and the repub- 
lican Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, her uncle. 
Although her father died in 57, her mother was well 
able to care for her. One of the most politically astute 


Junia (3) 

women of her day, Servilia and Julius Caesar had 
been lovers, remained friends, and traded favors. 

Junia married Publius Servilius Isauricus, con- 
sul in 48 b.c.e. and a supporter of Julius Caesar. 
He was a good choice. A careful man, he navigated 
a narrow course through the political conflicts 
after the death of Caesar. Marcus Tullius Cicero, 
who did not trust him, tried to win him over, but 
he claimed family obligations. Related to the tyran- 
nicides not only through Junias half brother Bru- 
tus but also through two brothers-in-law, Gaius 
Cassius Longinus and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, 
he sought a conciliatory role. He might even have 
entertained the idea of serving as a mediator 
between Caesarians and the republicans, which his 
mother-in-law, Servilia, would have welcomed. 

Junia gave birth to a son and a daughter. Her 
daughter, Servilia (3), was to have married the 
young Octavian in 43 b.c.e. when her uncle, Mar- 
cus Aemilius Lepidus, was part of the Second Tri- 
umvirate with Octavian and Antony. Octavian 
instead married Claudia (5), the daughter of Ful- 
via (2) and the stepdaughter of Antony. To placate 
Junias husband, Octavian supported him in his 
successful bid for the consulship for 41. Junias 
daughter, Servilia, later married her cousin Marcus 
Aemilius Lepidus, the son of her sister Junia. Junias 
son-in-law was prosecuted by Octavian's intimate 
friend and supporter Gaius Maecenas for plotting 
to kill Octavian in 30 b.c.e. and was sent to 
Actium, where he was executed. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 62.1. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 192. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, pp. 19, 35. 

Junia (3) 

(first-second century c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Junia and nursed her. Junia died of the disease. 
Fannia, who had suffered exile three times, became 
infected and also died. 


Pliny the Younger. Epistulae 7.19. 

[b] Junia Calvina 

(?-79 c.e.) Roman: Italy 
'-lived woman 

Junia, a Vestal Virgin, became seriously ill with 
tuberculosis and had to be removed from the house 
of the Vestals. The Stoic Fannia (2), was related to 

Junia Calvina was the only one of five siblings to 
die a natural death. Unconventional and beautiful, 
she was the last direct descendant of the emperor 
Augustus. Her great-grandmother was Augustus's 
only daughter, Julia (6). Her mother was Aemilia 
Lepida (3) and her father, Marcus Junius Silanus 
Torquatus, was consul in 19 c.e. 

Junias clear claim on succession by virtue of 
her ancestry simultaneously made her a desirable 
marriage partner and left her vulnerable. She 
married Lucius Vitellius, consul suffectus in 48 
c.e., the younger son of a close ally of the emperor 
Claudius. Divorced for unknown reasons the 
same year, she was accused by her former father- 
in-law, Vitellius, of incest with her brother Lucius 
Junius Silanus Torquatus. The sources attributed 
the charge to the younger Julia Agrippina, the 
emperor Claudius's niece, who would become his 
wife a year later, and who was assiduous in clear- 
ing the way for the succession of her son, Nero. 
Julia Calvina was sent into exile in 49, and her 
brother committed suicide on the day that Agrip- 
pina married Claudius. 

Agrippina prevailed, and Nero became emperor. 
After his mother's death, Nero ended Junia's exile, 
and she returned to Rome. Her other siblings were 
not as fortunate. Nero forced her brother Decimus 
Junius Silanus to commit suicide. Her sister Junia 
Lepida was falsely accused of engaging in magical 
practices and having sexual relations with her 
nephew, Lucius Junius Silanus. In 79, when the 
emperor Vespasian was informed on his deathbed 
that a huge crevice had appeared in the mausoleum 
of Augustus, he was said to have quipped that it 
was for Julia Calvina, Augustus's long-lived last 


junia Silana 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Vespasian 23. 

Tacitus. Annates 12.4.8; 14.12. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 129-130. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 787. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschafl 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 198. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[b] Junia Claudilla 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political wife 

Junia Claudilla was the daughter of Marcus Junius 
Silanus, a noted orator and consul suffectus in 15 
c.e., and the sister of Junia Silana. Her mother is 
unknown. The emperor Tiberius arranged her mar- 
riage to Gaius Caligula in 33. She died in child- 
birth a few years later, before her husband became 
emperor. In 38, Caligula forced her father to com- 
mit suicide. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 6.20.1; 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 

and Hudson, 1976, pp. 207, 215. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschafl 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 199. 

Junia Lepida 

(first century c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Italy 

Junia Lepida, one of five siblings, including Junia 
Calvina, who were the last generation of direct 
descendants of the emperor Augustus, was a victim 
of the struggle for succession to the emperor 
Claudius. Her mother, Aemilia Lepida (3), was 
the great-granddaughter of Augustus, and her 
father, Marcus Julius Silanus Torquatus, was an 
orator of note and consul in 19 c.e. 

She married the eminent jurist Cassius Longi- 
nus, consul suffectus in 30 c.e. In 65 the emperor 
Nero accused her of engaging in magical practices 
and having sexual relations with her nephew Lucius 
Junius Silanus. He also charged her nephew and 
husband with treason. 

Silanus was murdered before his exile took 
place, and her husband was exiled to Sardinia. He 
was later recalled by the emperor Vespasian. Noth- 
ing more is known about Junia. 


Tacitus. Annales 16.8. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 203. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[b] Junia Silana 

(?-59 c.e.) Roman: Italy 
political player 

Junia Silana was both beautiful and of noble lin- 
eage. Under three different emperors she took part 
in the battles waged among the elite over power, 
prestige, and succession. She was the daughter of 
Marcus Junius Silanus, consul suffectus in 1 5 c.e. 
Her sister, Junia Claudilla, married the young 
Gaius Caligula probably in 30 or 31 and died in 
childbirth a few years later. Caligula forced her 
father to commit suicide in 38. After Claudius 
became emperor in 48, she married Gaius Silius, 
consul designate and considered one of the hand- 
somest men in Rome. 

Her marriage was destroyed by the relationship 
between her husband and Valeria Messallina, wife 
of the emperor. Messallina and Silius may have 
been allies in a conspiracy to supplant Claudius. 
The powerful freedmen around Claudius, led by 
Narcissus, convinced the emperor of their nefarious 
intent, and the lovers were seized and executed. 

Junia was a close friend of the younger Julia 
Agrippina who followed Messallina as the wife of 
Claudius and who was intent upon her son Nero's 
succession to the emperor. She broke with Agrip- 
pina, however, when the latter told the young 


Junia Tertia 

Sextius Africanus, whom the widowed Junia 
wanted to marry, that Junia was both immoral 
and too old. Gossip had it that Agrippina was not 
interested in Africanus but hope to keep Junia a 
widow so that she might inherit her estate. 

Junia found an opportunity for revenge. In 55, 
when Nero began to tire of his mother's domina- 
tion, Junia arranged for Nero to suspect Agrippina 
of conspiracy. She had two of her clients tell 
Atimetus, a freedman of Nero's aunt Domitia, 
that Agrippina was plotting with Rubellius Plau- 
tus against Nero. Domitia had ample cause to 
share Junia's hated of Agrippina. Agrippina, the 
widow of Domitia's brother, had persuaded Domi- 
tia's husband, consul in 44 c.e., to divorce his wife 
so that he could marry her. She was also responsi- 
ble for the execution of Domitia's sister, Domitia 

Junia's revenge failed. Nero was prepared to 
order his mother's death but was persuaded to 
allow Agrippina to defend herself. A delegation 
was sent to Agrippina, who convinced them of her 
innocence. The accusers, including Junia Silana, 
were exiled in 55. In 59 Nero lifted her exile, but 
she died in Tarentum (modern Taranto) before she 
could return to Rome. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 12. 

Tacitus. Annales 11.12; 13.19-21. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 120-121. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 196-198. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 205. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[b] Junia Tertia 

(73 B.c.E-22 c.e.) Roman: Italy 
political player 

Junia Tertia outlived her enemies and supporters 
alike, dying at age 95 in the reign of the emperor 
Tiberius. The youngest of three sisters, her parents 
were Servilia (i) and Decimus Junius Silanus, 

consul in 62 b.c.e. Her father died by 57, but her 
mother played a significant part in the politics 
before and after the assassination of Julius Caesar. 
Her mother arranged her marriage with Gaius 
Cassius Longinus, later one of Caesar's assassins. 
They had a son who assumed the toga virilis on the 
Ides of March in 44 b.c.e. 

Despite a recent miscarriage, Junia Tertia was 
present at a meeting at Antium on June 8, 44 b. 
c.e., called and presided over by her mother, who 
was acknowledged to have once been the lover 
and still a friend of the recently slain Caesar. Also 
present were Junia's husband, Cassius; Marcus 
Tullius Cicero; her half brother Brutus; and his 
wife Porcia, the daughter of Marcus Porcius Cato 
Uticensis and a cousin of Junia. The meeting was 
called to decide on a response to the Senate's offer 
to appoint Brutus and Cassius supervisors for the 
collection of corn taxes in the provinces of Asia 
and Sicily. It provided an honorable way for them 
to escape the city in the aftermath of Caesar's 
assassination. Cicero argued that the offer should 
be accepted; Brutus was undecided and Cassius 
contemptuous. No decision was taken, but Ser- 
vilia declared that she would see to it that the offer 
was withdrawn. 

Junia's husband, Cassius, committed suicide in 
42 b.c.e. after his camp was captured at Philippi 
by the troops of Antony and Octavian. She never 
remarried and died a very wealthy widow in 22 
c.e. She left legacies to almost every important 
patrician. Although she did not mention the 
emperor Tiberius, he allowed a splendid celebra- 
tion of her funeral. Emblems of 20 great republi- 
can houses were carried in the funeral procession. 


Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum 14.20.2; 15.11.1. 

Macrobius. Saturnalia 2.2; 5. 

Tacitus. Annales 3.76. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 206. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1963, pp. 69, 116, 492. 



[b] JuniaTorquata 

(first century B.c.E.-first century c.e.) 
Roman: Rome 


Junia Torquata was a Vestal Virgin for 64 years and 
served as the head of the Vestal college for much of 
that time. Considered a woman of exemplary vir- 
tue, she lived a more fortunate life than did her 
siblings. She was born into a noble family proba- 
bly the daughter of Appia Claudia and Junius Sila- 
nus, about whom little is known. 

In 8 c.e., her brother Junius Silanus was charged 
with an adulterous relationship with Julia (7), the 
granddaughter of the aging emperor Augustus. He 
went into voluntary exile. In 20, her brother Mar- 
cus used his influence with the emperor Tiberius 
to allow Junius's return to Rome. Two years later, 
her brother Gaius Silanus was accused of extortion 
and treason. Found guilty, he was exiled. 

Junia intervened with the emperor. Tiberius 
requested of the Senate that Gaius Silanus be sent 
to the island of Cythnus rather than the bleak and 
uninhabited island of Gyaruss. The Senate acqui- 
esced and also approved a motion supported by 
Tiberius that any property of Silanus that came 
from his mother should not be confiscated but 
given to his son. 


Tacitus. Annates 3.69. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, pp. 193, 196. 


(?-c. 391 c.e. 

Roman: Gaul, Italy 

Justina ruled as regent for her son Valentinian II 
(who was co-emperor in the West with his step- 
brother Gratian) after the death of her husband, 
Valentinian I. Justina was beautiful, and Valentin- 
ian divorced his first wife to marry her. She traveled 
with her husband and had four children, before he 
had a stroke and died on maneuvers in 375. Jus- 
tina, with the support of her husbands ministers, 

especially the military leaders in Illyricum, and her 
uncle, friend, and longtime confidant, Cerealis, led 
the troops to declare her four-year-old son Emperor 
Valentinian II, with imperium over Italy, Africa, 
and Illyricum. The threat of insurrection from the 
Illyricum army led Justina's stepson and emperor in 
the West, Gratian, to accept the imperium of Valen- 
tinian II and Justina's regency. 

Justina was the daughter of Lustus and the sister 
of Cerealis, a tribune of the imperial stables. At an 
early age she was betrothed to Magnentius, a senior 
military general in the short-lived reign of Con- 
stans. One of the three sons of Constantine the 
Great, Constans died in battle with his brother fol- 
lowing Constantine's death. In January 350, Mag- 
nentius led a coup in Gaul. He was proclaimed 
Augustus and the western provinces quickly 
accepted his rule, but in September 351, Constan- 
tius II, the most successful son of Constantine, 
defeated him in battle. Two years later, in 353, he 
committed suicide in Gaul. Justina's life during the 
period is unknown. 

On August 25, 383 c.e., Justina's stepson, 
Gratian, died in Britain in an army revolt led by 
Magnus Maximus. The troops declared Maximus 
emperor. However, he made no effort to invade 
Italy, and Theodosius, who recognized Maximus, 
compensated Justina for the loss of Britain with 
rule over Dacia and Macedonia. 

Politics and religion were never far apart. Jus- 
tina was an Arian Christian as had been the 
Augusta Helena, the mother of Constantine the 
Great, and his half sister Constantia, as well as 
the Augusta Eusebia and Domnica. Arianism had 
less support in the East than the West where it was 
especially popular among the Germans. In Milan, 
which was the western seat of power, the Arian 
bishop, Auxentius, asked Ambrose, the orthodox 
bishop of Milan, to provide an Arian church. 
Ambrose refused. In 386, Justina issued an edict 
through her son that granted freedom of assembly 
to those who had that right by a church council 
under the emperor Constantius II and an order to 
exile Ambrose. It failed. Thousands of Ambrose's 
followers flocked to the church. Ambrose kept up 



the spirits of the collected thousands blockaded in 
the church by singing hymns. Justina gave up and 
withdrew her troops. 

In 387, Maximus invaded Italy and Justinia 
fled with Valentinian and her daughter Galla to 
Thessalonica in Macedonia. Theodosius came to 
Thessalonica and was entranced by the beauty of 
Galla, whom Justina had knowingly used as bait to 
secure her return to Rome. A marriage was agreed 
upon and Theodosius sent Justina and her children 
to Rome by ship. Maximus was defeated. Valentin- 
ian regained control over Italy in 388. Justina dis- 
appears from the historical record and probably 
died within the year. 


Ambrose. Letter XX. 

Ammiamus Marcellinus XXVIII. 2, 10. XXX. 10. 4. 

Socrates. Historia Ecclesiastica IV. 31. 10—17. 

Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica VII. 13. 2, 11; 14. 7. 

Zosimus. New History/Zosimus. A translation with com- 
mentary by Ronald T. Ridley. Canberra: Australian 
Association of Byzantine Studies, 1982. 

Jones, A. H. M. The Later Roman Empire 284-602: A Social 
Economic and Administrative Survey. 2 vols. Norman: 
University of Oklahoma Press, 1964. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 488-489. 





(seventh century b.c.e. 

Greek: Corinth 

Labda was said to have lived during the seventh 
century b.c.e. in Corinth, which had been cap- 
tured by Dorian Greeks invading from the north 
during the previous century. Her father was Amph- 
ion from the clan of the Bacchiadae, the first 
Dorian rulers. She married Eetion, one of the con- 
quered Lapithi. 

Her husband consulted the oracle at Delphi 
since he had not yet fathered a son. The priestess 
foretold that Labda would have a son who would 
conquer Corinth. Her family saw the prophecy 
as a message of their downfall. They sent 1 men 
to kill the son Labda had delivered. Labda 
allowed them into the house to admire the child, 
who beguiled them. They returned with the 
intention of kidnapping the boy. Labda over- 
heard their plans. She successfully hid the baby 
in a bin. The would-be assassins returned to 
Corinth and claimed that the child had been 

Her son Cypselus overthrew the Bacchiadae 
and became tyrant of Corinth (c.657-25 b.c.e.). 


Herodotus. The Persian Wars 5.92. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 420-421. 


(second-first century b.c.e. 

Roman: Rome 

Laelia was an elegant speaker. Her father was 
Gaius Laelius, consul in 140 b.c.e. and one of the 
greatest orators of his time. After the Punic Wars, 
the study of Greek literature and philosophy 
spread among the educated elite of Rome. Laelia's 
family became patrons of literature and art. Her 
father taught her rhetoric. Laelia married Quin- 
tus Mucius Scaevola, an outstanding orator and 
consul in 1 17 b.c.e. He taught Marcus Tullius 
Cicero, who compared Laelia favorably with her 
father. Years later, the great rhetorician Quintilian 
also praised her. 

Laelia's daughter Mucia and her granddaugh- 
ters Licinia (i) and Licinia (2) were also elegant 


Cicero. Epistulae ad Brutum 58.211—12. 
Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria 1.1, 6. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 47-48. 



(D Lais 

(fifth-fourth century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Sicily, Corinth, and Thessaly 
self-made woman 

Lai's was beautiful. Her mother was Lysandra, a 
lover of Alcibiades, the Athenian statesman and 
general. When she was seven years old, she and her 
mother were brought to Corinth, Greece, as pris- 
oners after the fortified town of Hycarra in Sicily 
fell during the Peloponnesian Wars. 

Lai's was said to have been the lover of the 
famous painter Apelles, although her dates make 
the claim improbable. More likely, she followed a 
lover to Thessaly, in northern Greece, where she 
was said to have died at the hands of women who 
feared her beauty. The women were said to have 
stoned her after they lured her into the temple of 

Her tomb beside the river Peneus was said to 
have an epitaph that recorded her power to enslave 
the invicible Greeks with her godlike beauty. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 13.588c-89b. 

Plutarch. Vitae Pamllelae (Parallel Lives): Alcibiades 

Plutarch. Moralia: Amatorius 767 f— 68b. 
Plutarch. Nicias 15 .4. 
Licht, Hans. Sexual Life in Ancient Greece. Trans, by J. H. 

Freese. London: Abbey Library, 1971, p. 347. 

[b] Lamia 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 
Cyprian: Cyprus and Egypt 
flute player 

Lamia, a noted flute player, captivated the hand- 
some Macedonian general Demetrius I when she 
was taken prisoner in 306 b.c.e., after he defeated 
Ptolemy I in a naval battle. No longer young her- 
self, she was said to have been older than 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Demetrius 16.3-4; 
20.4; 27.2-6. 

[b] Lanassa 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Syracuse, Corcyra, and Greece 

political player 

Lanassa left her husband, took back her dowry, and 
then offered herself in marriage to the ruler of 
Macedonia. She was the daughter of Agathocles, 
the tyrant of Syracuse, on the island of Sicily. She 
married Pyrrhus, the great general and ruler of Epi- 
rus in northwestern Greece. As her dowry, she had 
been given the large island of Corcyra (modern 
Corfu) off the coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea. 

She became disenchanted with Pyrrhus, who 
had taken another wife, and left Epirus for Corcyra. 
In 292 or 291 b.c.e. she offered to marry the 
handsome Demetrius I, ruler of Macedonia, and 
to bring him Corcyra as a dowry. The offer was too 
good to refuse. She became one of Demetrius's 
wives. In 288, her new husband was defeated by 
her former husband and the general Lysimachus. 
Demetrius fled to Asia. He died five years later, in 
283 b.c.e. 

Lanassa had a son, Alexander, by her first 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Pyrrhus 9.1; 10.5. 
Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 66-67. 

[a] Laodice I 

(third century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Syria and Asia Minor 

Laodice fought for power for herself and her sons 
in the tumultuous generations following the death 
of Alexander the Great in 323 b.c.e. Her grandfa- 
ther Seleucus founded the Seleucid Empire, 
encompassing Asia Minor and western Asia. Her 
father was Achaeus, Seleucus's younger son. The 
older son, Antiochus I, became ruler after her 
grandfather's death. She married his son and her 
cousin, Antiochus II. She had two sons, Seleucus 
Callinicus and Antiochus Hierax, and two daugh- 
ters, Stratonice and Laodice. 


Laodice III 

Her husband repudiated her in 252 b.c.e. to 
marry Berenice Syra, the daughter of Ptolemy II 
Philadelphus of Egypt. The match secured for him 
the friendship of Ptolemy the return of previously 
lost territories, and Berenice's dower wealth. He 
named Berenice's son his heir. To appease Laodice, 
Antiochus gave her estates near the cities of Baby- 
lon and Borsippa. Laodice, who was very wealthy 
even before her former husband's settlement, 
moved herself and her children to Ephesus, which 
became a second royal center. In time, Laodice 
enticed Antiochus to Ephesus and persuaded him 
to abandon Berenice. The elderly Antiochus died 
in 246, possibly poisoned by Laodice, soon after 
he had named her son his successor. 

Laodice and Berenice fought to control the 
empire. Berenice had supporters in Antioch and 
some of the towns of Syria. She requested aid from 
her father in Egypt. Laodice arranged to have Ber- 
enice's son kidnapped. Berenice pursued the kid- 
nappers on a chariot and killed one with a stone. 
Faced with a hostile crowd, the kidnappers pro- 
duced a child. Without relinquishing him, they 
claimed he was the son of Berenice. Berenice with- 
drew to a palace in Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, 
with a guard of Galatian troops. Laodice, afraid of 
the arrival of Egyptian forces, had her murdered 
despite the efforts of Berenice's women retainers to 
shield her with their bodies. 

Ptolemy III Euergetes I, Berenice's brother, had 
in the meantime succeeded their father in Egypt. 
He arrived too late to save his sister, but the events 
precipitated the Third Syrian War (246-41). At 
this point, Laodice and her son moved their court 
to Sardis away from the coast of Asia Minor. They 
left Ephesus governed by Sophron, the lover of 
Danae, Laodice's favorite woman retainer. For an 
unknown reason, Laodice became disenchanted 
with Sophron and summoned him to Sardis. 
Danae warned him, and he succeeded in winning 
enough time to escape. He offered himself to Ptol- 
emy and became a commander in the Egyptian 
fleet. Laodice killed Danae for her treachery. 

Although Ptolemy made some important gains 
in Asia Minor, Laodice and her son Seleucus II 

successfully organized resistance to the invasion. 
While Seleucus fought to regain his territories in 
245 b.c.e., he left his brother Antiochus Hierax, 
who was still a minor, in Sardis in Asia Minor. 
When Seleucus requested reinforcements, Laodice, 
who favored her younger son, had the troops sent 
on condition that Hierax became the coruler of the 
Seleucid Empire in Asia Minor. 

Laodice's end is not recorded. Her two sons, 
however, became so weakened by fighting each other 
that they lost control of most of their territory. 


Appian. Syrian Wars 65. 

Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 13.593c. 

Justin. Epitome 27. 

Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 7.53. 

Polyaenus. Strategemata 8.50. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 
libri 1X9.10.1. 

Bevan, Edwyn B. The House of Selecus. 2 vols. London: 
Edward Arnold, 1902, pp. 181 ff. 

Cary, M. A History of the Greek World from 323 to 146 
B.C. London: Methuen, 1951, pp. 86-88, 109, 369, 

Downey, Glanville. A History of Antioch in Syria fom Seleu- 
cus to the Arab Conquest. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton 
University Press, 1961, pp. 87ff. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 82-90. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 814. 

Tarn, W. W. The Cambridge Ancient History 7. New York: 
Cambridge University Press, p. 715ff. 

(D Laodice III 

(third-second century b.c.e.) 
Persian: Asia Minor and Asia 

Laodice III was generous and supported worthy 
causes throughout the Seleucid Empire. Born the 
daughter of Mithradates II, the king of Pontus in 
northern Asia Minor, she was married with great 
pomp and ceremony in 221 b.c.e. to Antioch III. 
Her husband, a descendant of Seleucus I, who had 
fought under Alexander the Great, reigned over 



territory from Anatolia, Syria, and Babylonia into 
central Asia. 

Laodice established dowries for the daughters of 
the poor. After her husband conquered the city of 
Caria in Asia Minor, she granted 10 years of corn 
to its inhabitants at a fixed price, which prevented 
profiteering. Her husband established a priesthood 
in her honor, and civic cults honoring her were 
founded in several cities. Her two sons were Seleu- 
cus IV and Antiochus IV, and her daughter, 
Cleopatra I (the Syrian), married Ptolemy V 
Epiphanes of Egypt. 


Polybius. Histories 5-43, 1—4. 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 
Publishers, 1985, pp. 91-93. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 814-815. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Women in Hellenistic Egypt. New York: 
Schocken, 1984, pp. 15-16. 


(fourth century b.c.e/ 

Greek: Greece 

Lastheneia came from the city of Mantinea in the 
Peloponnese, the peninsula in southern Greece. 
She studied philosophy with Plato and his succes- 
sor, Speusippus, at the Academy in Athens. She 
was reputed to have sometimes dressed like a 


Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 3.46. 

Hawley, Richard. "The Problem of Women Philosophers 
in Ancient Greece." In Women in Ancient Societies: An 
Illusion of the Night, ed. by Leonie J. Archer, Susan 
Fischler, and Maria Wyke. New York: Routledge, 1994, 
pp. 74, 81-82. 


(sixth century b.c.e.) 
brave woman 

Greek: Athens 

ancient Athenian clan, attempted to murder Hip- 
pias, the tyrant of Athens, and his younger brother 
Hipparchus. Harmodius and Hipparchus were 
killed in the struggle. Hippias was unharmed, and 
his guards seized Aristogeiton. 

Hippias tortured Leaena, but she refused to 
betray her lover. She died. Aristogeiton, also tor- 
tured, was executed. A bronze lioness was later 
erected in Leaena's honor at the entrance to the 


Pausanias. Description of Greece Ti A— 1. 
Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 7.23, 87. 


(c. 457 c.e.-?) 
political actor 

Roman: Constantinople 

Leaena was the lover of Aristogeiton. In 514 b.c.e. 
Aristogeiton and Harmodius, both members of an 

Leontia was determined to become Augusta like 
her mother, Verina, and sister, Ariadne. She was 
the younger daughter of Verina and the emperor 
Leo I, born sometime after her father became 
emperor in 457. Briefly betrothed to another, she 
married Marcian, whose father, Anthemius, had 
been the Roman emperor in the West from 467 to 
472. They had at least two daughters. 

Leontia lived in the West while her family 
engaged in an internecine struggle for the imperial 
mantle. After her father died in 474, her sister and 
her sister's husband, Zeno, came to the fore. Zeno, 
who had been second in power under Leo, became 
regent for his seven-year-old son, Leo II. The child 
died within a year. Zeno assumed the title of 
emperor and Ariadne became Augusta. 

Verina was alive and living in the palace. She 
loathed Zeno and plotted his downfall. She elic- 
ited the support of her brother Basiliscus and, in 
winter 475, Zeno fled with Ariadne and a goodly 
part of the treasury to Isauria, whence he originally 
had come and where he had allies and kin. 

Verina's brother double-crossed her and became 
emperor. Verina, ever inventive, plotted anew and 
helped Zeno and Ariadne return to the city in 
summer 476. Basiliscus and his wife and children 
were killed. Verina still was not content. She 
attempted to assassinate Illus, an earlier ally who 


Licinia (2) 

had become a general close to Zeno. She failed. 
Illus demanded from Zeno that Verina be handed 
over to him. He imprisoned her in a castle in 

From her castle-prison in Isauria, Verina reached 
out to Leontia and Marcian. Marcian had been 
watching the situation in the East with covetous 
eyes. Verina offered him an opportunity to inter- 
fere and Leontia was the excuse. Toward the end of 
479, Marcian laid claim to rule the East. Leontia, 
he argued, had been born after her father Leo had 
become emperor and thereby was a more legiti- 
mate heir than Ariadne. He, not Zeno, ought to be 
emperor. The populace, never any friend of Zeno, 
rallied around Marcian, and he had almost cap- 
tured Zeno when Illus arrived with an Isaurian 
force and defeated him. 

Leontia fled to the safety of a monastery and 
Marcian became a priest. He was banished to Cap- 
padocia. Marcian escaped and attacked Ancyra 
(modern Ankara) but was defeated. Leontia and 
Marcian were confined together in a fortress in 
Isauria. Nothing more is heard of them. 


John Malalas. Chronicle XIV, viii. 

Theophanes. Chronicle AM 5971, 5972. 

Bury, J. B. History of the Later Roman Empire from the 
Death of Theodosius to the Death of Justinian. New York: 
Dover Publications Inc., 1958. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992. p. 667. 


(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Athens 

Leontion was a philosopher and companion of the 
philosopher Epicurus at his school in Athens. 
Leontion's philosophical writings rivaled those of 
Theophrastus, the student, collaborator, and ulti- 
mately successor to Aristotle. She and Metrodorus 
(330-277 b.c.e.), another disciple of Epicurus, 
became lovers. They had a son named after Epicu- 
rus and a daughter, Danae. 

In his will, Epicurus ordered his trustees to pro- 
vide for the children's maintenance, to give Danae 
a dowry, and when she came of age to find a mem- 
ber of the Epicurean school for her to marry. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 593c-d. 

Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 10.19— 

Seneca. Epistulae 52.3. 
Hawley Richard. "The Problem of Women Philosophers 

in Ancient Greece." In Women in Ancient Societies: An 

Illusion of the Night, ed. by Leonie J. Archer, Susan 

Fischler, and Maria Wyke. New York: Routledge, 1994, 

pp. 74, 80-81. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, p. 141. 

(D Licinia (I) 

(?— 154 b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
convicted murderer 

Licinia and Publilia (i) were convicted in 154 b. 
C.e. of poisoning their husbands, both of whom 
were ex-consuls. Licinia's husband was Claudius 
Asellus. Licinia assigned the property she owned to 
the praetor as surety for her presence in the city 
after she was charged. After her conviction, she 
was turned over to her family and put to death. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 48. 

Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorahilium 

libri 1X63,7. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, p. 39. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 178. 

(D Licinia (2) 

(second century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Licinia was the elder daughter of Publius Licinius 
Crassus Dives Mucianus, a wealthy expert in 
Roman law, a noted orator, and consul in 131 b. 
C.e. Her family was part of the circle around the 


Licinia (3) 

Gracchi that demanded tax and land reform. Her 
sister Licinia (3) married Gaius Sempronius Grac- 
chus, strengthening the families' political ties. 

Licinia married quite young in 143 b.c.e. Her 
husband was Gaius Sulpicius Galba, also a sup- 
porter of the Gracchi. From 121 to 119 he served 
on the land commission that Gaius Gracchus had 
established at Carthage. In 1 10 he was condemned 
for corruption during the Jugurthine War in 
Numidia, North Africa. Nothing more is known 
of Licinia. 


Cicero. Brutus 82, 85-90. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,454. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 179. 

Richardson, Keith. Daggers in the Forum: The Revolutionary 
Lives and Violent Deaths of the Gracchus Brothers. Lon- 
don: Cassell, 1976, pp. 41, 180. 

Licinia (3) 

(second century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Licinia, the younger daughter of Publius Licinius 
Crassus Dives Mucianus, a noted legal expert, ora- 
tor, and consul in 131 b.c.e., participated in the 
violent struggle for land and tax reform. Her fam- 
ily was a political ally of the Gracchi, and her mar- 
riage with Gaius Sempronius Gracchus had 
probably been arranged since her childhood. Mar- 
ried to him in 133 b.c.e., she brought to the union 
a significant dowry from her wealthy family. She 
had an older sister, Licinia (2). 

Determined to carry forward the reforms of his 
brother Tiberius, her husband was elected tribune 
in 123 and 122. He passed a series of measures that 
included land distribution, subsidies for wheat, the 
establishment of new colonies for citizens, and 
public works. The measures reflected efforts to 
address the simultaneous problems of an increasing 
class of landless citizens and the inflation that 
accompanied their settling in the city. Opposition 

to him and to the reforms he represented, however, 
was strong. His proposal to grant citizenship to 
people of Italy outside Rome was defeated, and he 
lost the election for tribune in 121. 

As his opponents moved to overturn the most 
objectionable of the reforms, skirmish occurred in 
which one person was killed. The Senate sum- 
moned Gaius to the Forum. Licinia was fearful he 
would be assassinated, as had been his brother 
before him. Her fears were well founded: Gaius 
was murdered in the Forum. 

After Gaius's murder in 121, his enemies sought 
to destroy his allies. They pursued Licinia through 
attacks on her property. Her wealth was saved by 
the efforts of her uncle the eminent jurist Publius 
Mucius Scaevola. However, to recover her dowry, 
her uncle was forced to publicly disavow her hus- 
band and lay responsibility on him for the riot in 
which he was killed. 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Gaius Gracchus 
21.1-2; 15.2,5; 17.5. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 180. 

Richardson, Keith. Daggers in the Forum: The Revolutionary 
Lives and Violent Deaths of the Gracchus Brothers. Lon- 
don: Cassell, 1976, pp. 114, 187-189. 

Licinia (4) 
(?-l 13 B.C.E.) 

Roman: Rome 

Licinia, Vestal Virgin and daughter of Gaius 
Crassus, tribune in 145 b.c.e., challenged author- 
ity. In 123 she dedicated an altar, oratory, and 
sacred couch at the temple of the Bona Dea. The 
praetor, Sextus Julius Caesar, protested that she had 
no prior authorization to do such a thing. The Sen- 
ate sent the case to the pontifices, who ruled the 
donations unsanctified and ordered them removed. 
In 1 14, a slave charged three Vestal Virgins with 
illicit behavior. Aemilia (i) was accused of having 
an affair with an equestrian, L. Veturius. Licinia 
and Marcia (i) were said to have had relationships 
at Aemilia's instigation with her lover's friends. 


Licinia (7) 

Aemilia was condemned, but the pontifex maximus 
Lucius Caecilius Metellus found the two others 
innocent. Then a special quaestio (investigation) 
was called, over which Lucius Cassius Longinus 
Ravilla presided. Licinias cousin Lucius Licinius 
Crassus, an outstanding orator, defended them, but 
to no avail. Both were condemned to death. 


Cicero. Brutus 43.160. 

Cicero. De domo sua 53.136. 

Dio Cassius. Roman History 

Livy. From the Founding of the City 43. 

Orosius. Seven Books of History Against the Pagans 5.15, 

Plutarch. Moralia: De fortunata Romanorum 83. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 52 ff. 

[a] Licinia (5) 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
elegant conversationalist 

Licinia was noted for the elegance of her speech. 
She was part of a family for whom conversation 
was a practiced art. Her mother, Mucia, and her 
grandmother Laelia had also been regarded as ele- 
gant conversationalists. Her grandfather was the 
famous orator Gaius Laelius, and she was the elder 
daughter of Lucius Licinius Crassus, a well-known 
orator and consul in 95 b.c.e. 

Licinia married Publius Scipio Nasica, praetor 
in 93. Her sister Licinia (6) married the son of the 
general Gaius Marius. Cicero praised both women 
for the beauty and precision of their conversation. 


Cicero. Brutus 211—212. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 183. 

[a] Licinia (6) 

(first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
elegant conversationalist 

Licinia, the younger daughter of Mucia and the 
famous orator Lucius Licinius Crassus, consul in 

95 b.c.e., was born into a family whose members 
were famous for their elegant conversation. Licinia 
and her sister Licinia (5) were admired for their 
speaking abilities. They both took after their 
mother and grandmother Laelia. 

Licinia married Gaius Marius, the son of the 
great general Gaius Marius, consul seven times. 
Her husband was offered the consulship of 82 after 
his fathers death. His mother, Julia (i), urged him 
to reject the office. She feared he was being used by 
the Marians against the dictator Lucius Cornelius 
Sulla. Her fears were well founded. After a defeat 
by Sulla, he committed suicide. 


Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum 12.49.1. 

Cicero. Brutus 21 1— 12. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 184. 

Licinia (7) 

(first century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Licinia, a Vestal Virgin and a member of the aristo- 
cratic Licinii, was accused in 73 b.c.e. of immoral 
behavior with her cousin Marcus Licinius Crassus. 
Both were subsequently found innocent. 

Crassus had spent time with Licinia in private 
to persuade her to sell him a villa she owned in the 
suburbs of Rome at a price less than its true value. 
The immensely wealthy Crassus, who had made a 
fortune buying property cheaply during the Sullan 
proscriptions, was renowned for his eagerness to 
acquire more. He eventually bought the land. The 
attack on Licinia was probably led by Crassus's 


Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Crassus 1 AS. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 239. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 185. 




(?-92 B.C.E.) 

political wife 

Roman: Rome 

Livia married twice, and each marriage produced a 
child important in the history of the Roman revo- 
lution. She was the daughter of Marcus Livius 
Drusus, consul in 112 b.c.e. In 104, she married 
Quintus Servilius Caepio, praetor in 91, and gave 
birth to two daughters, Servilia (i), who became 
the lover and friend of Julius Caesar, and Servilia 
(2), and a son, Gnaeus Servilius Caepio. Divorced 
around 98 b.c.e. because of a quarrel between her 
brother and her husband, she married Marcus Por- 
cius Cato in 96. They had a daughter, Porcia, and a 
son, Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, who became 
one of the republican leaders against Caesar. Livias 
second husband died just before the wars in Italy, 
and she died shortly thereafter in 92 b.c.e. 


Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,394. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 35. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, p. 25. 

[b] Livia Drusilla 

(January 30, 58 b.c.e-29 c.e.) 
Roman: Italy 
power broker 

Livia was the most important woman of her time. 
Her character, discretion, and intellect comple- 
mented her strategic skills and were enhanced by 
the advantage of a long life. She spanned the period 
before the onset of civil war, through the reign of 
her husband Augustus and much of that of her son 
Tiberius. In her household were nurtured many of 
the enmities and alliances that shaped the first 50 
years of the empire, and her travels and correspon- 
dence with friends and clients spread her reach 
across the Roman world. Her reception rooms 
were always filled with visitors and petitioners. Her 

household, which sometimes encompassed 1,000 
people or more, included multiple generations of 
children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, more 
distant kin and clients of the extended Julio-Clau- 
dian families. 

Born on January 30, 58 b.c.e., she was the 
daughter of Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus, 
from the illustrius Claudian clan, and Alfidia, the 
daughter of a rich councillor from the Italian city 
of Fundi. Livias father lived well into the years of 
the civil war and fought against Mark Antony and 
Octavian. He killed himself after the defeat of 
Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius at Philippi in 

42 B.C.E. 

Livia married twice. Her first husband, whom 
she married at the age of 15 or 16, in 43 or 42 
b.c.e., was Tiberius Claudius Nero, quaestor in 48 
and a distant relative. She gave birth on November 
16, 42 b.c.e. to Tiberius, the future emperor. Her 
husband's political allegiance followed a not-too- 
unusual course for the times. A republican and a 
supporter of Caesar, he commanded Caesars fleet 
in the Alexandrian War in 47 b.c.e. After Caesar's 
death, however, he called for special honors for the 
assassins. In 41, he sided with Antony against 
Octavian. In 40, as part of the Perusine war, he 
attempted to ignite a slave revolt in Campania. 
When the war failed, he fled from Rome and 
Octavian with Livia and their infant son. In Sicily 
he joined the friendly Sextus Pompeius. After a 
falling-out with Pompeius, he rejoined Antony in 
Achaea. He, along with Livia and their young son, 
returned to Rome in 39 after the Pact of Misenum 
secured peace under the Second Triumvirate. In 
that same year, Livia became pregnant with her 
second child. 

She also began an affair with Octavian. How it 
started remains unclear. That it quickly became 
notorius, however, is well attested. In a society reel- 
ing with the social dislocations of civil war, it was 
still a flagrant violation of tradition for the preg- 
nant Livia to live openly with Octavian while both 
were divorcing their respective spouses. Octavian 
divorced Scribonia on the day she gave birth to 
his only child, Julia (6). He sought an opinion 
from the college of pontifices about contracting a 


Livia Drusilla 

marriage with the still-pregnant Livia. They ruled 
in his favor. Perhaps there was little else they could 
do except to accept the new marriage but to estab- 
lish that Tiberius Claudius Nero was the legitimate 
father of the unborn child. Gossip about the 
behavior of both Octavian and Livia reached epic 
proportions. On January 28, 38 b.c.e. Livia's first 
husband presided over the wedding feast. 

After the birth of Livia's second son, Nero 
Claudius Drusus, both boys went to live with their 
father to avoid further scandal. Shortly thereafter, 
their father died and left Octavian guardian. The 
boys moved back into Livia's household. The three 
months between the birth, death, and the return of 
the boys to their mother kept tongues wagging. 
Again in 36 during a food shortage in Rome, the 
couple caused scandalous gossip when they taste- 
lessly hosted a banquet for the gods. Subsequently 
they changed their image: Livia adopted a modest 
persona and her unconventional move from one 
husband to another faded into history while Octa- 
vian's future sexual exploits never exceeded what 
was considered acceptable among the aristocracy. 
The two became a model Roman husband and 
wife and remained married for 50 years, until the 
death of the emperor in 14 c.e. Over the course of 
the next decades the memory of their union's noto- 
rious beginning so faded that years later, when 
Augustus meted out harsh punishments to his 
daughter and granddaughter for their adulterous 
behavior, nary an eyebrow was raised in remem- 
brance of the past. 

After their marriage, even before Octavian 
became Augustus, Livia's elevated status was clear. 
In 35 b.c.e., Livia and Octavian's independent- 
minded sister Octavia (2) were accorded the sta- 
tus of tribunica sanctissima, which made any assault 
upon their person as if an attack on the state. 
Never previously held by a woman nor ever again, 
it was probably Octavian's intention to protect 
Octavia from her husband Antony, and it would 
not have been politic to exclude Livia. The office 
also gave the women independent authority over 
property and wealth. Then in 18 and 9 b.c.e., with 
the passage of the Julian laws, which Livia sup- 
ported, she was granted rights that released her 

from any form of even token male guardianship. 
In one of those ironies of history, had those same 
laws been in effect at the onset of their affair, both 
Livia and Octavian would have been sent into exile 
on different islands for adultery and much of their 
wealth confiscated. Moreover, instead of hosting 
their wedding, her first husband could have been 
prosecuted for pandering. No less ironic, these 
same laws were the basis for Augustus's later exile 
of his daughter and granddaughter. 

A wealthy woman to begin with, Livia managed 
people and property well. Her alliances with other 
women, many of whom were also influential in the 
public and private affairs of the period, constituted 
a circle within which she did business and traded 
favors. Some were her peers, like her sister-in-law 
Octavia. Some were clients from abroad like 
Salome, the sister of Herod the Great, who 
bequeathed to Livia the towns of Jamnia, Phasae- 
lis, and Archelais. Still others were well-born 
women who sought her influence. She was instru- 
mental in having the son of her close friend Urgu- 
lania made consul in 2 b.c.e. She probably had a 
hand in the marriage of the future emperor 
Claudius to Plautia Urgulanilla, granddaugh- 
ter of Urgulania. In 16 c.e., when the senator 
Lucius Piso obtained a summons against Urgula- 
nia for money owed him and Urgulania refused to 
pay, it was to Livia's house she went and put herself 
under her friend's protection. 

Livia invited into her house her extended family 
and clients from abroad. In addition to her own 
children, Tiberius and Drusus, there were Augus- 
tus's daughter Julia and Julia's chidren — twin sons, 
Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, and two daugh- 
ters, Julia (7) and the elder Vipsania Agrippina. 
After Livia's youngest son, Drusus, died in 9 b.c.e., 
her daughter-in-law, the younger Antonia and her 
three children, Germanicus, Claudius, and Livia 
Julia Livilla Claudia, moved into the household. 
Gaius Caligula and two of his sisters, Julia 
Drusilla and Julia Livilla, also lived with Livia 
for a short time after their mother, the elder Agrip- 
pina, was exiled. Marcus Salvius Otho, grandfather 
of the later emperor Otho, was yet another later 
political figure who grew up in Livia's household. 


Livia Drusilla 

Livia and Augustus's relationship joined both 
family and the affairs of state, and sometimes the 
two were indistinguishable. The events and 
arrangements in which she was central ranged from 
macro state decisions to micro private affairs. 
Augustus regularly asked her advice. Often he took 
it. After a plot was uncovered against him led by 
Gnaeus Cornelius, a descendant of Pompey the 
Great, she argued that he could coop the conspira- 
tors. It was Livia who persuaded Augustus and 
Tiberius to implement the arrangements for 
Claudius, the future emperor who was afflicted 
with some kind of palsy. In addition there was a 
steady stream of senators and other officials who 
came to consult and curry favor. Livia arranged for 
Marcus Salvius Otho to be made a senator. When 
Quintus Haterius, whose remarks offended the 
emperor and who had accidentally knocked down 
Tiberius, came to apologize, Livia saved him from 
being executed. She sometimes went beyond the 
bounds of Augustus's decisions. During his daugh- 
ter Julia's 20 years of exile she helped Julia. 

In all Livia worked unceasingly, especially, to 
enhance the interests of her family and particularly 
the future of her own sons. Although Augustus 
had adopted her children, she faced arrogant oppo- 
sition from Augustus's Julian relatives who felt 
their family without peer, and succession to Augus- 
tus their birthright. Along with Livia, Octavia and 
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa completed Augustus's 
most intimate circle. Her sister-in-law Octavia, 
whose household rivaled Livia's in its size and influ- 
ence, had married her daughter the elder Mar- 
cella to Agrippa. The links by marriage were 
further extended through the marriage in 25 b.c.e. 
of Octavia's son Marcus Claudius Marcellus and 
Julia, Augustus's daughter. 

Succession seemed assured with Agrippa as 
regent should anything happen too soon for the 
next generation to assume control. Barely two years 
later, in 23, Marcellus, the most likely heir, died. 
Agrippa then divorced Marcella and married Julia, 
and they had three sons in rapid succession: Lucius 
Caesar, Gaius Caesar, and Agrippa Postumus, all of 
them possible heirs to Augustus. Once more the 
line of succession seemed secure. Years earlier, Livia 

and Titus Pomponius Atticus, the very wealthy 
father-in-law of Agrippa's first wife Caecilia Attica, 
had arranged for the marriage of Livia's son Tiberius 
with Attica and Agrippa's daughter Vipsania 
Agrippina. They married in 20 or 19 b.c.e. At the 
time it appeared a desirous union. All during the 
civil war years there were problems with money, 
and Atticus had enormous wealth. Agrippa was in 
his prime, and clearly a family link between Livia 
and Agrippa could only be advantageous in 
strengthening both of their positions in the inti- 
mate circle around Augustus. 

Agrippa died unexpectedly in 12 b.c.e. The 
three sons born of his second marriage with Julia 
were adopted by Augustus. The line of succession 
through the Julians still appeared in place. How- 
ever, marriage to Julia appeared to be the way to 
succession, so Tiberius divorced Vipsania and mar- 
ried his stepsister Julia in 1 1 b.c.e. It seems likely 
that Livia and Augustus had both agreed to the 
arrangement, even though it was said that Augus- 
tus favored Livia's younger son, Nero Claudius 
Drusus. In 9 b.c.e. the younger son died from an 
infection after a fall off his horse. 

Livia had successfully used unexpected deaths 
in the Julian family to place Tiberius in the most 
advantageous position for succession as regent over 
her husband's young grandsons, if not as emperor. 
In 6 b.c.e. Augustus granted Tiberius tribunicia 
potestas (powers of a tribune) for five years and 
asked him to go to the East on a diplomatic mis- 
sion. Tiberius, however, had his own views and was 
not necessarily amenable to the plans of his mother 
and adoptive father. 

Much to Livia's consternation and Augustus's 
anger, Tiberius insisted that he be allowed to retire 
to the island of Rhodes. For four days he refused 
food, and threatened to kill himself if they failed to 
agree. They agreed, and he left Rome. He walked 
away from his parents, his wife, and an empire. 
Tiberius's behavior was outside the bounds of 
acceptability. In 2 b.c.e., he changed his mind and 
asked to return to Rome. Augustus refused. Livia 
persuaded him to appoint Tiberius legate to 
Rhodes in an attempt to paint over his own invol- 
untary stay on the island. It was, however, another 


Livia Drusilla 

four years, in 2 c.e., before she finally secured 
Augustus's agreement for Tiberius to return to 

Fate took a hand. In the same year, the cher- 
ished grandson of Augustus, Lucius Caesar, died 
on his way to Spain. A second grandson, Gaius, 
was wounded and died two years later in 4 c.e. 
Augustus banished the third grandson, Agrippa 
Postumus, in the same year. Although a fine physi- 
cal specimen, his cruelty and ungovernable temper 
made him clearly unfit to rule. Tiberius alone 
remained among the possible successors. 

Livias good fortune in her son Tiberius did not 
pass unnoticed among the elite whose lives were 
lived in the arena of imperial power. Rumors 
abounded that Livia was responsible for the deaths 
of the grandsons and later, even for the death of 
her partner and husband, Augustus. Augustus fell 
gravely ill during August 14 c.e. in Nola some 20 
miles east of Naples. Livia sent an urgent message 
to Tiberius, who was on his way to Illyricum (the 
Balkans), to come to Nola. In the meantime, Livia 
admitted only a trusted few to Augustus's side. 
Optimistic bulletins were issued. It is not clear 
whether Tiberius arrived before or after Augustus's 
death, but only after his arrival was public notice 
given that Augustus was dead. His death occurred 
on August 19, just shy of his 76th birthday. Livias 
son and Augustus's adopted son, Tiberius, was 
named successor. 

Agrippa Postumus, the difficult grandson in 
exile on the island of Planasia, was immediately 
put to death. It is not known whether Augustus 
had given prior orders to his close adviser, Gaius 
Sullustius Crispus, or whether Livia had issued 
orders for the execution under Augustus's name. 
Tiberius knew nothing about the execution and 
decided that the Senate should look into it, but 
Crispus and Livia persuaded him to drop the mat- 
ter. In her husband's will, Livia was named Julia 
Augusta and was adopted into the Julian gens. She 
was granted exemption from the lex Voconia, which 
limited women's rights to inheritance. Augustus 
left her one-third of his estate, and her son, 
Tiberius, two-thirds. She also became the priestess 
of her husband's cult after his deification. 

Livia had succeeded. She had lived to see her 
son succeed her husband, and he, anxious perhaps 
to demonstrate his independence from a mother 
who had herself become symbolic of the new impe- 
rial Rome, was embarrassed by the role she played. 
Livia assiduously coveted honors that Tiberius 
foiled. He refused to allow an altar to celebrate her 
adoption into the Julian clan. Members of the Sen- 
ate proposed a number of possible titles for Livia, 
such as parens patriae (Parent of her Country) or 
mater patriae (Mother of her Country). Others 
wanted to add Iuliae filius (Son of Julia [Augusta]) 
to Tiberius's name. Tiberius claimed history had 
no such honors for women and added that he 
would also refuse similarly nontraditional honors 
for himself. He also refused requests that she be 
granted lictores, the traditional attendants who car- 
ried fasces, symbols of the legitimacy and inviola- 
bility of Roman magistrates. 

In public Tiberius and Livia maintained correct 
relations. Gossip circulated, however, that their 
private relations were more difficulty. Tiberius 
retired to Capri. Livia remained in Rome. In the 
next three years, he only visited her once and then 
only for a few hours. Still, her influence remained 
significant. She intervened and brought about the 
acquittal of her friend Munatia Plancina, who, 
along with her husband Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, 
had been accused of treason after the death of Ger- 
manicus Julius Caesar, husband of the elder Agrip- 
pina. She also was responsible for advancing the 
career of Gaius Fufius Geminus, consul in 29 c.e. 
and the husband of her friend Mutilia Prisca, in 
spite of Tiberius dislike for him. After Livias death 
the two women and Fufius were forced to commit 

Livia died in 29 at the age of 86. Tiberius did 
not attend her funeral and would not allow her to 
be deified. He also refused to execute her will in 
which her largest bequest was to the future emperor 
Galba, whom she had befriended. Her reach into 
the future, however, was long. Her eulogy was 
delivered by her grandson and future emperor, the 
young Gaius Caligula, who had lived for a short 
time in his grandmother's house. He called her 
Ulixes stolatus, "Ulysses in skirts." When he became 


Livia Ocellina 

emperor, he executed her will, and when Claudius, 
who also had lived in her household, became 
emperor, he deified her. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 48.15 .3-4, 34.3, 44; 49.38.1; 
53.33.4; 54.19.3-4; 55.2.5-6, 10a, 10, 14, 1 seq., 
32.1-2; 56.30.5-32.1-2, 46.1-3, 47.1; 57.3, 5-6; 
57.12; 58.2.1-6; 59.2.3; 60.5.2. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 62.2; 63.1; 
84.2; 101.2. 

. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 10.1; 16.3; 


. The Lives of the Caesars: Claudius 1.1; 4; 11.2. 

. The Lives of the Caesars: Galba 5.2 

. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 4.3; 6.1—3; 10.2; 

12.1; 13.2; 50.2-3; 51. 

Tacitus. Annates 1.3-7, 8, 10, 13-14, 33; 2.14, 34, 43, 77, 
82; 3.15, 17, 34, 64, 71; 4.8, 12, 16, 21-22, 57, 71; 
5.13; 6.5, 26, 29; 12.69. 

Barrett, Anthony. Livia: First Lady of Lmperial Rome. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, index. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, index. 

Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiherius. New York: Barnes 
and Noble, 1931, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 876. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 37. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1963, index. 

[b] Livia Ocellina 

(first century c.e.) 
political player 

Roman: Rome 

Livia Ocellina, a wealthy and beautiful woman, 
married Gaius Sulpicius Galba, consul sufFectus in 
5 b.c.e. She ignored his short stature and hunch- 
back: After he removed his robe and displayed his 
body so that she should have no illusions about 
him, she was said to be even more anxious for the 

Her husband had previously been married to 
Mummia Achaica, the mother of his two chil- 
dren, Gaius and Servius Sulpicius Galba. Livia 
Ocellina adopted Servius, who took her name and 
the surname Ocella. Her adopted son grew up to 
become a favorite of both Augustus and Tiberius. 
He ruled for a short while during the troubled year 
of the four emperors then was assassinated in Janu- 
ary 69 c.e. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Galba 3.4; 5.1. 

Livia Orestilla 

(first century c.e.) 
political victim 

Roman: Rome 

Livia Orestilla suffered the consequences of her 
beauty. She attracted the attention of the emperor 
Gaius Caligula when she was the wife of the hand- 
some, popular Gaius Calpurnius Piso, a member 
of a prominent family and an excellent orator. Cal- 
igula attended their wedding in 37 c.e., and the 
sources report that he had the bride taken to his 
own home. The next day he announced that he 
had taken a wife in the ancient way. The relation- 
ship ended within two months. 

In 40, Caligula accused the reunited Livia and 
Piso of adultery and exiled them. Although there is 
no further mention of Livia, Piso returned to 
Rome during the reign of the emperor Claudius. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 59.8.7—8. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 25.1. 

Ferrill, A. Caligula: Emperor of Rome. London: Thames and 

Hudson, 1991, p. 108. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 42. 

[b] Livilla, Livia Julia Claudia 

(c. 13 b.c.e.-31 c.e.) Roman: Rome 

Livilla, sometimes called Livia Julia, died in the 
struggle to secure succession of her son. Twice wid- 
owed by men who were the emperor Tiberius's 


Livilla, Livia Julia Claudia 

likely successors, she was the daughter of the 
younger Antonia and Tiberius's brother Nero 
Claudius Drusus, consul in 9 b.c.e. Born in 13 b. 
c.e., her great-uncle was the emperor Augustus. 
One grandmother was the independent-minded 
Octavia (2), Augustus's sister, and the other, Livia 
Drusilla, his wife. 

After her father's death in 9, she lived with her 
mother and brothers in her grandmother Livia's 
household. In 1 b.c.e. she married Gaius Julius 
Caesar, the oldest grandson of Augustus, who also 
had spent part of his youth in Livia's household. 
Gaius died of battle wounds in 4 c.e. Livilla remar- 
ried. Her second husband was Drusus Julius Cae- 
sar, the son of Tiberius. The marriage, which united 
the Julian and Claudian family lines, provided her 
husband with a privileged position for succession. 

Livilla and Drusus had a daughter, Julia (8), 
and years later twin sons, Germanicus and Tiberius 
Gemellus, born in 19 c.e. Despite her husband's 
vicious personality and dissolute lifestyle, Livilla 
expected him to succeed his 65-year-old father. 
Drusus, however, died in 23 c.e. In the same year 
one of the twins, Germanicus, also died, leaving 
Livilla with a grown daughter and a young son — 
and the issue of succession to Tiberius again 

Livilla set about to protect her own interests 
and especially those of her son. Two women 
opposed her: Her mother, Antonia, sided with Liv- 
illa's sister-in-law Agrippina in promoting Gaius 
Caligula, Agrippina's youngest son, as successor. 
Although Antonia was well regarded, Tiberius had 
no love for Agrippina, who was convinced that 
Tiberius had murdered her husband Germanicus, 
despite the absence of clear evidence. Devoted to 
the interest of her children and fearful of Agrip- 
pina, Livilla allied herself with Lucius Aelius Seja- 
nus, prefect of the Praetorian Guard in Rome. 
Tiberius was a military man who had never liked 
the urban life of Rome. He may also have been 
tired of dynastic infighting, possibly distressed at 
his increasingly displeasing appearance, and ready 
to enjoy other pursuits. He retired to Capri in 26 
c.e. and left Sejanus as his eyes and ears in the 

Livilla and Sejanus had good reason to join 
forces. Sejanus could not aspire to the position of 
emperor — it would be some decades more before a 
man born outside the charmed circle of the elite 
could rule. Livilla offered Sejanus the link with the 
imperial family that only birth could secure. While 
Tiberius did not view him as a threat, Sejanus 
already had control over the Praetorian Guard and 
unique access to the emperor. If not emperor, he 
could possibly aspire to become regent for the 
young Tiberius Gemellus, provided the way was 
clear of other contenders. 

In 20 c.e. Livilla's daughter, Julia, had married 
Nero Julius Caesar, the eldest surviving son of her 
sister-in-law Agrippina. In 23 c.e., with the death 
of Livilla's husband, her grown son-in-law was a 
more likely successor than her still young child. 
Already quaestor, probably in 26, Nero was intem- 
perate, made rash statements, and openly staked 
his claim to the empire. Whether with conscious 
intent to harm or simply the loose tongue of a 
lover, Livilla passed on to Sejanus information 
from conversations with her daughter about Nero, 
whom both mother and daughter disliked. 

Sejanus convinced Tiberius that Nero and his 
mother, Agrippina, were conspiring against the 
emperor. Tiberius exiled them both. Deported in 
29, Nero was executed in 3 1 . Drusus Julius Caesar, 
Nero's brother and a second son of Agrippina, sup- 
ported Sejanus's accusation. While Drusus's posi- 
tion had been enhanced with the banishment of 
his brother, it proved a short-lived advantage. Only 
a year later, he too was imprisoned. 

Gaius Caligula, the remaining son of Agrip- 
pina, and Gemellus, the young son of Livilla, were 
now the two most probable heirs of Tiberius. Cal- 
igula was more favorably positioned since he was 
much older. In 30, however, Sejanus appears to 
have gained Tiberius's consent for his marriage. It 
is possible that the planned marriage was not with 
Livilla, who was about 43 years old, but with her 
widowed daughter Julia, now around 25. In any 
case, through either of the unions, he would have 
moved closer to the imperial family and perhaps 
Livilla's son would also have moved closer to 
becoming the heir. 


Lollia Paulina 

Good fortune ended abruptly; Livilla's down- 
fall followed that of Sejanus. Possibly Caligula 
convinced Livilla's mother, Antonia, that Sejanus 
was engaged in a conspiracy. Surely not a conspir- 
acy aimed directly against Tiberius, since the lat- 
ter's immediate death would only have endangered 
Sejanus's own position. Most likely it was a con- 
spiracy aimed at Caligula, who was the last 
impediment to the son of Livilla. It remains 
unclear why Antonia supported Caligula when 
she must have been aware that the downfall of 
Sejanus would also bring down her daughter and 
probably her granddaughter Julia and her grand- 
son Gemellus. Whatever the reasons, she informed 
Tiberius, and Sejanus was killed, as were his two 
children. Apicata, the divorced wife of Sejanus, 
killed herself two days after Sejanus's execution 
and left a letter for Tiberius in which she accused 
Sejanus and Livilla of eight years earlier having 
poisoned Drusus, Livilla's husband and Tiberius 's 

The slaves and attendants of Livilla and Sejanus 
were tortured. Their "confessions" allowed Tiberius 
to declare that Sejanus and Livilla had engaged in a 
conspiracy against the children of Agrippina and 
Germanicus. After Tiberius heard the case, Livilla 
was turned over to the custody of her mother, 
Antonia. She starved herself to death. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 57.22.1-2; 58.11.6-7. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 62.1. 

Tacitus. Annates 2.43, 84; 4.3, 12, 39-40, 60. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, p. 147. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, index. 

Marsh, Frank Burr. The Reign ofTiberius. New York: Barnes 
and Noble, 1 93 1 , index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 876. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. ReaTEncyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 38. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

Lollia Paulina 

(first century C.E.) 
political player 

Roman: Italy 

Lollia Paulina was rich, smart, and beautiful. All 
three attributes shaped her life. Her father possibly 
was consul suffectus in 13 C.E., although the fam- 
ily enmity with Tiberius leaves his career open to 
question. Her mother was Volusia, also of a con- 
sular family. Lollia inherited enormous wealth 
from her grandfather Marcus Lollius, consul in 2 1 
b.c.e., who made the family fortune in spoils from 
the provinces. 

The emperor Caligula was determined to marry 
Lollia. Her husband, Memmius Regulus, consul in 
3 1 c.e. was in Greece as governor of Moesia and 
was agreeable to a divorce. She and Caligula mar- 
ried in 38. Lollia had emeralds and pearls of enor- 
mous value and beautifully worked to cover her 
head, hair, ears, neck, and fingers. She adorned the 
emperor with her beauty and her jewels, but her 
wealth and beauty were not sufficient. Caligula 
divorced her a year later in 39 and forbade her to 

Ten years later, in 48, Lollia was again in the 
running to become the wife of an emperor. This 
time it was Claudius. She was supported by Gaius 
Julius Callistus, one of the influential freedmen of 
the emperor, on the grounds that she was childless, 
would remain so, and was therefore a possible step- 
mother for Claudius's offspring free of any com- 
peting claims. 

The younger agrippina's success over Lollia in 
the competition for Claudius apparently did not 
sufficiently eliminate the threat Agrippina felt 
she posed. Moreover, she wanted Lollia's prop- 
erty and jewels. Agrippina charged her with con- 
sulting astrologers. Claudius condemned Lollia 
without a hearing. She was stripped of her vast 
wealth, except for 5 million sesterces to enable 
her to live, and was banished in 49 c.e. Agrip- 
pina sent a tribune to force Lollia to suicide. As a 
rebuke to his mother, Agrippina's son, the next 
emperor Nero, allowed Lollia Paulina's ashes to 
be brought back to Rome and erected a tomb to 
house her remains. 


Lucilla, Annia Aurelia Galeria 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 59.12.1, 23.7; 61.32.4. 

Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 9.57, 1 17-19. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 25. 

Tacitus. Annates 12.1-2; 14.12. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 181-182. 

Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 70-71. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 883. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschafl 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 30. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[a] Lucilia 

(second— first century b.c.e.) Roman: Rome 
mother ofGnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the Great) 

Lucilia came from a rich aristocratic family. Her 
father was a senator, and her uncle Gaius Lucilius, 
a famous poet and satirist. She married Gnaeus 
Pompeius Strabo, consul in 89 b.c.e. He was a suc- 
cessful general but had a reputation for cruelty and 
corruption. He died in an epidemic, and his body 
was dragged through the streets by the people, who 
hated him. He and Lucilia had a son, Gnaeus 
Pompeius (Pompey the Great). 


Valleius Paterculus. Historiae Romanae lihri II 2,29.1 ff. 
Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. London: Oxford 
University Press, 1963, p. 28. 

[b] Lucilia, Annia Aurelia Galeria 

(148-182 c.e.) 

Roman: Asia, Africa, Germany, and Rome 


Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla, the daughter of the 
emperor Marcus Aurelius, organized an unsuc- 
cessful conspiracy against her brother, the emperor 
Commodus. She was born in 148 c.e., the daugh- 
ter of the younger Annia Galeria Faustina and 
Marcus Aurelius. Had she been born a son rather 

than a daughter, she may well have been a worthy 
successor to her father. Her father became 
emperor in 161, succeeding Antoninus Pius. In 
164 her father arranged her marriage with Lucius 
Verus, whom he had made co-emperor in 161. 
The marriage took place in Ephesus, and she was 
given the title Augusta. She was some 18 years 
younger then her weak and ineffectual husband 
who died in 169 on his way back to Rome from 
the Danube. 

Against her will and the wishes of Faustina, 
Marcus Aurelius immediately had Lucilla marry 
the much older Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus, a 
native of Antioch. She was 21, and he was proba- 
bly over 50. Her new husband was her father's 
trusted friend and had been a commander in all of 
his campaigns. His father had been prefect of 
Egypt, and the family was descended from rulers 
in the East. Lucilla undoubtedly considered the 
marriage beneath her and detested the sedentary 
country life that suited her ailing husband. 

Marcus Aurelius died in 180, and was succeeded 
his son Commodus, whom he had appointed joint 
ruler in 177. Commodus treated his sister Lucilla 

Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla 

(Date: 164 C.E.-/69 C.E. 1959.228.28, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 



respectfully. She sat on the imperial seat at the the- 
ater and retained other privileges. However, she 
hated her sister-in-law, Crispina Bruttia, and rec- 
ognized her brothers limitations. In 182 Lucilla 
had uncovered sufficient discontent with her broth- 
er's rule to organize a conspiracy for his overthrow. 
Members of the group included her cousin Ummid- 
ius Quadratus; Paternus, who was head of the 
imperial guard; and, Claudius Pompeianus Quin- 
tianus, who was to do the actual stabbing. Pom- 
peianus turned out to be an inept murderer. He was 
arrested while announcing to Commodus his inten- 
tion to stab him. Lucilla was banished to Capri and 
soon afterward killed. Her son, Claudius Pompeia- 
nus, was later murdered by the emperor Caracalla. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 71.1, 3; 73.4.4—5. 

Herodian. History of the Empire 1.8.3—6, 8; 4.6.3. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Commodus 4.1, 4; 5.7. 

. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius) 

7.7; 9.4; 20.6.-7.6. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 99. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 123. 


(sixth century b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Lucretia was a Roman heroine from the early years 
of the city-state when myth and history were inex- 
orably intertwined. She was the wife of Lucius Tar- 
quinius Collatinus. As the story goes, her husband 
was present at a dinner in which the men boasted 
about the virtue of their wives. Among them was 
Sextus, the son of Tarquinius Superbus, the last 
king of Rome. After Tarquinius Collatinus claimed 
no other wife could compare with his, the men 
agreed to go together to each of their houses to see 
what the women were doing. The wives were all 
found to be socializing until they came to Lucre- 

tia's residence. She was busily engaged in working 
with wool, and her servants were busy doing useful 
tasks, all signs of a virtuous Roman matron. The 
men agreed that she was the winner. 

Sextus returned a few days later while Lucretia's 
husband was away. He raped her after she refused 
his advances. Afterward he demanded her silence 
by threatening to ruin her reputation. He prom- 
ised he would kill her and place a naked dead slave 
in bed by her side. 

Lucretia summoned her husband, her father, 
and her uncle Lucius Junius Brutus. She told them 
that her heart was pure, but her body had been 
desecrated. She made them swear that they would 
avenge her. Lucretia then stabbed herself and set 
an example for all future women of Rome. 

According to Roman tradition, Tarquinius Col- 
latius and Junius Brutus led a revolution in 510 
b.c.e. that established the Roman republic. They 
became the first consuls. While the story may be 
apocryphal, Lucretia was revered, and Romans 
credited her for the end of the monarchy and the 
creation of the republic. 


Livy. From the Founding of the City 1.57.6—11, 58—60. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 888. 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 
Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 
Books, 1975, pp. 160-161. 

[b] Lysandra 

(fourth-third century b.c.e.) 
Greek: Egypt, Macedonia, and Syria 
power broker 

Lysandra was a fighting woman. She was the 
daughter of two Macedonian rulers of Egypt, 
Eurydice (3) and Ptolemy I Soter. In 298 b.c.e. 
her father-in-law, Cassander I, ruler of Macedonia, 
died, and her sister-in-law Thessalonice became 
regent. She divided rule between Alexander V, her 
younger favored son, and his brother Antipater. 
Lysandra married Alexander. 



Enraged that Thessalonice had deprived him of 
rule over all of Macedonia, Antipater murdered his 
mother. Alexander asked the general Demetrius, 
called the Besieger, for help in avenging her death. 
Instead, Demetrius murdered Alexander, ousted 
Antipater, and made himself king of Macedonia in 
295 b.c.e. Lysandra fled with her children to her 
father's court in Egypt. 

Two years later, Lysandra married Agathocles, 
the son of Lysimachus of Thrace. Her father-in- 
law became ruler of Macedonia in 285 after 
defeating Demetrius. He married Lysandra's half 
sister Arsinoe II Philadelphia. Arsinoe per- 
suaded her elderly husband to have Lysandra's 
husband Agathocles murdered on suspicion of 

treason in 283. Lysandra fled with her children 
to Antioch seeking the protection of Seleucus, an 
enemy of her father-in-law. In 281, Lysimachus 
was defeated and killed in a battle with 

Lysandra was so angry over the murder of 
Agathocles that it was difficult for members of her 
father-in-law's family to retrieve his body. Nothing 
more is known of Lysandra's saga. 


Pausanias. Description of Greece 1.9, 10.3—5. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Demetrius 

Macurdy, Grace. Hellenistic Queens. Reprint. Chicago: Ares 

Publishers, 1985, pp. 55-58. 





(c. 270-340 c.e.) 
early Christian 

Roman: Pontus 

Macrina was a matriarch whose grandchildren 
shaped early Christian asceticism. As a child, she 
and her family were influenced by Gregory of 
Thaumaurgus, the first bishop in the city of Neo- 
caesarea, in Pontus, the region of modern Turkey 
north of Cappadocia. It was an area noted as a cen- 
ter of early Christianity. In 112, two centuries 
before the conversion of Constantine, the younger 
Pliny had written to the emperor Trajan from Asia 
Minor, where he was governor of the province of 
Bithynia, to request guidance about the Christians. 

Persecutions against Christians persisted with 
more or less vigor in different parts of the empire 
including Asia Minor until the early fourth cen- 
tury. Macrina and her family were affected in 306, 
a scant six years before the battle at the Mulvian 
bridge and the conversion of Constantine. Her 
estates were confiscated but she escaped with her 
husband and children into the countryside where 
they stayed hidden for several years. After 312, she 
and her family returned to the city. They were hon- 
ored for their steadfastness and their property was 

Macrina educated her daughter Emmelia as a 
Christian and lived long enough to take part in the 

religious upbringing of her grandchildren, Peter, 
Basil, and Gregory, each of whom became a notable 
bishop. Her granddaughter, the younger Macrina, 
became a famous ascetic and founded a monastery. 
Her children and grandchildren remembered 
her as a model of piety and of maternal caring. The 
exact date of her death is unknown. 


Basil. Epistle 204, 6; 223: 3. 

Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, 1990. 

Macrina the Younger 

(c. 327-379/380 c.e.) 
religious leader 

Roman: Pontus 

Macrina was the dominant personality in a family of 
extraordinary achievement, renown, and piety. 
According to her brother Gregory, the bishop of 
Nyssa, her principles became those of the people 
around her and the imprint of her personality shaped 
them all. Companion to her three notable brothers, 
the bishops Peter, Basil, and Gregory, she founded 
and led a monastery for women on the family's estate 
in Annisa, in Pontus, not far from the Black Sea. Her 
asceticism rested on a simple life, work, study, and 
prayer. Gregory credited her in a eulogy written after 
her death with inspiring their brother Basil to develop 
a monastic rule for men. 


Macrina the Younger 

According to Gregory, their mother, Emmelia, 
educated Macrina in the scriptures and the psalter, 
which she recited daily. Her brothers had a more 
traditional education, which included pagan litera- 
ture and philosophy. However, in writing about 
Macrina, Gregory noted that his sister was familiar 
with classical literature. Possibly, she learned from 
her brothers as much as she taught them. Alterna- 
tively, she may have discovered the Greek literature 
that was available in the family household through 
her own initiative. 

Macrina's younger life followed a traditional 
path for well-born girls, albeit within a family of 
strong women and devoted Christians. She was 12 
years old when her father arranged for her betrothal 
and, as was frequently the situation, the marriage 
was postponed until Macrina was older. However, 
her prospective husband died and Macrina refused 
to consider another marriage partner. She argued 
that her betrothal remained valid since she and her 
prospective husband would be reunited by the 
coming Resurrection. In her Christian family the 
argument held weight. 

After the death of her father in 340, Macrina, 
her mother, and her grandmother, the elder Mac- 
rina, raised Macrina's eight younger siblings. Mac- 
rina waited on her mother, baked bread, and 
performed the other manifold chores for a house- 
hold of children, adults, and dependents, includ- 
ing other kin and slaves, all living together in a 
compound of buildings, stables, and gardens. For 
her younger brother Peter, who later became bishop 
of Sabaste, she became mother, father, and teacher. 
Affluent and educated, Macrina's engagement with 
the busy household also discouraged further pres- 
sure for marriage. 

Although her later fame has highlighted the 
spiritual, Macrina was an eminently practical 
woman. She shared with her mother oversight of 
the family's holdings. In addition to the household 
and its gardens, they together managed four 
income-producing estates in three provinces on 
which they paid taxes to three rulers. 

Gradually, however, she and her mother lived a 
more monastic life. Macrina's experiences with 
ascetic living echoed and influenced adherents in 

other parts of the empire. During these decades, 
asceticism was a new and expanding phenomenon 
that was probably, at least in part, a spiritual 
response to the deteriorating conditions of life in 
the empire. Not only was there the familiar threat 
of violence among contenders for the imperial 
purple, but there was a loss of security as wars with 
the tribes that had previously remained on the bor- 
ders of the empire came ever closer. The century 
was also a period of widespread economic deterio- 
ration, which accelerated a decline in urban infra- 
structure. Fewer new roads, baths, arenas, and 
aqueducts were built or kept in repair. The trans- 
port of goods was more difficult, and agricultural 
productivity declined. A life of private contempla- 
tion that struggled to erase the power of externali- 
ties held an appeal, especially when it was reinforced 
by the Christian promise of Resurrection. 

Macrina, along with Basil's colleagues among- 
churchmen like Eustathius of Sebaste, also in Asia 
Minor, influenced Basil's development of commu- 
nal monastic rules for men. Gregory wrote that 
when their brother Basil returned from schooling 
in Athens, skilled in rhetoric and disdainful of the 
local residents, it was Macrina who convinced him 
through example and argument to embrace an 
ascetic life. 

Basil's presence, and the marriage of Macrina's 
sisters in 357, changed the household. Macrina 
persuaded her mother to organize their life in an 
even more overtly monastic fashion. Unlike other 
monasteries and houses for widows and virgin 
women in which wealthy members still had the 
services of slaves or attendants, Macrina insisted 
that their household eliminate all earthly distinc- 
tions of birth or wealth. All of the women in the 
household were expected to undertake household 
chores, eat the same food together, and enjoy simi- 
larly simple sleeping arrangements. They lived 
without luxury, worked, studied religious texts, 
prayed, and sang hymns. 

After her mother's death in 370/371, Macrina 
and her brothers inherited the family assets equally. 
Basil built a monastery for men on the family 
property in Annisa. Across a small stream, Macrina 
built a house for virgin women and widows. The 


Maecia Faustina 

two monasteries were separate and distinct, 
although on occasion they shared services and 
food. The siblings, Basil, Peter, Gregory, and Mac- 
rina, however, remained in continuous communi- 
cation through visits and letters. In contrast with 
Basil, Macrina chose not to direct the women's 
house; instead she became its spiritual mother, set- 
ting an example for sisters to emulate. She donated 
her portion of the inheritance from her mother to 
the local church for charitable purposes and proba- 
bly expected that the donation would also assure 
care for the future for her monastery. 

Macrina also insisted that the women's commu- 
nity be as self-sufficient as possible. Her emphasis 
on self-sufficiency, like her donation to the local 
church, became a common practice in the later 
monastic movement. Possibly, however, self-suffi- 
ciency was for her as much a necessity as a virtue: 
If the monastery were to survive, there was little 
choice but for it to provide for itself. The practical 
aspect of Macrina may have considered self-suffi- 
ciency an investment in the uncertain future no 
less than the donation of land secured the relatively 
fragile local church. 

Gregory was with Macrina as she lay dying. He 
described her room, the pallet she used for a bed, 
the simplicity of her cloak, and the modesty of her 
physical needs. Gregory did not dwell on her phil- 
osophical ideas. However, in his work, On the Soul 
and the Resurrection, he created a dialogue in which 
Macrina was his teacher and she discoursed on 
philosophical questions that interwove Christian 
and pagan thought. Possibly, she was only Grego- 
ry's Diotoma. Neither her learning nor her persona 
were representative of a real woman, but rather an 
inspiration. Alternatively, her insights may have 
had all the sophistication and clarity Gregory 
attributed to her. 

Macrina died in 379/380 with Gregory at her 


Corrigan, Kevin. "Syncletica and Macrina: Two Early Lives 
of Women Saints." Available online. URL: http://www. Accessed June 19, 2007. 

Gregory of Nyssa. Ascetic Works, On the Soul and Resurrec- 
tion, passim. Life of Macrina, in Handmaids of the Lord: 

Contemporary Descriptions of Feminine Asceticism in the 
First Six Christian Centuries. Translated and edited by 
Joan M. Peterson. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publication, 
Inc., 1996. 
Roth, Catherine. "Platonic and Pauline Elements in the 
Ascent of the Soul in Gregory of Nyssa's Dialogue on 
the Soul and the Resurrection." Vigiliae Christianae 46, 
no. 1 (March 1992): 20-30. 

[b] Maecia Faustina 

(third century c.e.) 

Roman: Italy and North Africa 

ruler for son 

Maecia Faustina was able, wealthy, noble and lived 
during difficult times in the third century c.e. Her 
family was old and honored. Her mother, Fabia 
Orestilla, was the daughter of the consul Annius 
Severus. Her father, Marcus Antonius Gordianus, 
was a man of culture and wealth. A follower of the 
Epicurian school, he traced his lineage back to the 
Gracchi on his father's side and to the emperor 
Trajan on his mother's. Maecia Faustina spent her 
childhood in a house built by the great republican 
general Pompey whose previous owners also 
included the triumvir Mark Antony and the 
emperor Tiberius. She married Junius Balbus, a 
man of consular rank, and gave birth to a son, 
Antonius, who became emperor at the age of 13. 

Her father, while proconsul of Africa, was asked 
to become emperor of Rome by a young group of 
aristocrats in revolt against the emperor Maximi- 
nus, whom they considered hostile to the Senate. 
Reluctantly, he accepted. In 238 c.e., at the age of 
79, he was recognized by the Senate. He took the 
title Gordian I and made Maecia Faustina's brother, 
Gordian II, his colleague. Her brother died soon 
after in battle, and her father committed suicide, 
having ruled for only 22 days. 

After the deaths of the two Gordians, the Sen- 
ate appointed Decius Caelius Balbinus and Pupi- 
enus Maximus joint emperors. They were a part of 
a senatorial board of 20 that had led the earlier 
opposition to Maximinus. To satisfy the poplar 
demand for imperial continuity, they elevated 
Maecia's son to Caesar. Three months later, the two 



emperors were murdered by the Praetorian Guard. 
Maecia Faustina and her husband had probably 
bribed the Praetorian Guard to act quickly. The 
13-year-old Antonius was declared emperor on 
July 9, 238. 

The new emperor, who took the name Gordian 
III, followed a political course favored by the Senate. 
Maecia Faustina directed the affairs of state, sup- 
ported by the faction that had supported her father 
and opposed Maximinus. Reform policies were initi- 
ated in administration, fiscal affairs, and the army. 
Efforts were taken to limit frivolous charges against 
the rich and notable. Attention was paid to strength- 
ening defenses at the frontiers, and gross abuses of 
power in the provinces were prosecuted. Despite 
efforts of reform, however, it was a period of finan- 
cial difficulty and political instability. 

In 24 1 , Gaius Furius Timesitheus was appointed 
prefect of the Praetorian Guard and assumed effec- 
tive control over the young emperor. Gordian III 
married Timesitheus's daughter, Furia Sabina Tran- 
quillina in the same year. The able Timesitheus 
died in 243. Gordian appointed Philippus from 
Arabia to take his place. Gordian III died of battle 
wounds in 244, and Philippus took the title of 

Nothing is known of the final fate of Maecia 


Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Gordian 22.4; 23.6—7; 

Townsend, Prescott W. "The Administration of Gordian 

III." Yale Classical Studies 15 (1955): 59-132. 
Townsend, Prescott W. "The Revolution of a.d. 238: The 

Leaders and Their Aims." Yale Classical Studies 14 

(1955): 49-97. 

[a] Maesia 

(first century b.c.e.) 
Roman: Umbria and Rome 


Maesia was a native of Sentium from Umbria, in 
Italy. Tried on a criminal charge, she conducted 
her own defense before the praetor Lucius Titus. 
She was acquitted by the jury. Praised for her skill 

in successfully pleading her case, she was also deni- 
grated with the epithet "androgyne" for stepping 
beyond the traditional female role. 


Valerius Maximus. Factorum et dictorum memorabilium 

libri 1X83.1. 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, p. 50. 
Marshall, A. J. "Ladies at Law: The Role of Women in the 

Roman Civil Courts." In Studies in Latin Literature and 

Roman History, ed. by C. Deroux. Brussels, Belgium: 

Latomus, 1989,pp. 41, 47. 


(first century b.c.e.) 
mother of Virgil 

Roman: Italy 

Magia was the mother of Virgil, Rome's greatest 
poet. She lived near Mantua in northern Italy and 
was married to a man who may have begun his 
career as a potter. Her husband may have been 
employed by her father as an assistant to the mag- 
istrates before their fortunes improved, and he 
became a landowner able to provide Virgil with a 
good education. 

Virgil was probably born on October 15, 70 
b.c.e. According to legend, Magia gave birth in a 
ditch on the side of the road while traveling with 
her husband in the country. 


Suetonius. The Lives of Illustrious Men: De grammaticis 
(Grammarians), Virgil 1-3. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,602. 


(first century c.e.) 
political victim 

Roman: Rome 

Mallonia is the only name we know of a woman 
reputed to be of high rank. She was said to have 
attracted the attentions of the emperor Tiberius 
around 26 c.e. The emperor was already old, ema- 
ciated and bald with a face disfigured by blotches. 
He repelled Mallonia, who may have been a good 



deal younger, and she refused his advances. Tiberius 
supposedly gathered derogatory information about 
her, which resulted in a trial. Tiberius pressed her 
to regret her behavior toward him. After leaving 
the court, she returned home and stabbed herself. 
A rude joke about Tiberius and Mallonia became 
current in the next street-corner Atellan farce, a 
popular entertainment of the day. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Tiberius 45. 

[a] Marcella 

(?^10 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
Christian ascetic and scholar 

Marcella was the descendant of an illustrious fam- 
ily of consuls and praetorian prefects. Although 
she had all the arrogance, wealth, self-assurance, 
and confidence of an elite Roman, she chose to 
become an ascetic Christian who struggled with 
humility, charity, and prayer. 

Marcella's mother was the elder Albina, a 
Christian who was lauded as univira, a widowed 
woman who never remarried. No information sur- 
vives about Marcella's youth, but she was probably 
brought up Christian. She was well educated in 
both the classical and Christian texts and in Latin 
and Greek. 

She married and was widowed seven months 
later. Her family assumed that she would remarry. 
There was no reason for her to remain alone, 
although at any one time in the cities and villas of 
large landed estates across the empire there were 
probably a significant number of households headed 
by women who chose to be unmarried. Roman his- 
tory had a number of women who made lives for 
themselves alone after the death of their husbands. 
The renowned Cornelia (2) retreated to the coun- 
try and her estate became a gathering place for the 
elite of the second century b.c.e. Moreover, she 
lived with her widowed and childless daughter, Sem- 
pronia. Some 400 years later, in the second century 
C.e. the younger Pliny regularly corresponded with 
his widowed aunt who lived alone and managed her 
own estates. Exiled men, like Cicero in the late 
Republic, left women, like his wife Terentia, 

behind to salvage family property and lobby for 
their return. All during the centuries, the time and 
distance routinely traveled on business or as part of 
civil and military assignments further contributed 
to many women at home managing family life and 
business affairs for months and years at a time. 

However, widowhood was not a sought-after 
status. Aside from the emotional loss, families of 
position and wealth needed legitimate heirs. His- 
torically, the elite families were the linchpin of 
social and economic life. Great families like that to 
which Marcella belonged were at the apex of a pyr- 
amid that spread out to include slaves, freedmen 
and women, and less wealthy friends, families, and 
kin. Their relationships, like the properties they 
owned, extended across the empire and over gener- 
ations. Continuity not only provided a living gen- 
eration to celebrate their ancestors (which also 
meant celebrating the greatness of Rome), but it 
also insured the network of obligations and respon- 
sibilities that bound together disparate groups into 
a functioning social system. 

As Marcella was young and attractive, her 
mother had no difficulty finding a wealthy, though 
much older, suitor, Naeratius Cerealis, whose fam- 
ily had the consular credentials that admitted him 
to the inner circle of Roman high society. His offer 
to Marcella was generous. Although women con- 
trolled their own wealth and had personal legal 
rights, there were liabilities to being a woman 
alone, and a powerful male protector was never 
unimportant. Acknowledging the difference in 
their ages, Cerealis also offered her his fortune 
upon his death. 

Marcella refused. She claimed that had she 
sought to remarry, she would have been more 
interested in a husband than a fortune. For her 
family, however, the more disturbing decision was 
that she would live out her life dedicated to Christ. 
Her decision may not have been wholly unex- 
pected, since her parents had decided that Marcel- 
la's younger sister, Asella, would remain an 
unmarried virgin and dedicate her life to God. 

Marcella's mother accepted Marcella's decision 
with a caveat. She, possibly after a family council, 
requested that Marcella assign her portion of the 



family wealth to her uncle, C. Caeionius Rufus, 
and his four children. Marcella agreed, perhaps 
with some reluctance, since she may have had 
other plans. However, as in many other cases when 
wealthy women gave away their wealth, whether to 
churches or relatives, she retained sufficient income 
and property to support her new life. It was suffi- 
cient for her to travel, make donations, and sup- 
port several houses around the city with day-to-day 
household expenses for a resident population that 
included numbers of short- and long-term visitors, 
dependents, disciples, slaves, freedmen and women, 
and sundry others. 

According to Jerome, Marcella led the first gen- 
eration of well-born woman in Rome who publicly 
embraced celibacy and established Christian houses 
for like-minded women. She already lived with her 
mother and her sister when she invited virgin 
women and chaste widows to join them in her 
palatial house on the Aventine in a wealthy resi- 
dential section of Rome. The women prayed 
together, fasted, and studied religious texts and the 
Bible, primarily in Greek, thereby using their 
sophisticated upper-class bilingual educations to 
ascetic ends. Their simple lifestyle also did not lack 
for attendants to serve them. Jerome, writing Mar- 
cella with advice, urged her to leave the house as 
infrequently as possible, except on Christian mis- 
sions and reminded her to treat the lowliest of 
slave women as she would treat her social peer. 

Marcella's household became a center for the 
visiting elite of Christendom. Visiting priests and 
bishops from the East met their Western and Afri- 
can counterparts. The bishop of Rome, Athana- 
sius, brought information to Marcella about the 
growing monastic movement. Priests from Alexan- 
dria informed her about the rules of Saint Anthony, 
one of the originators of monastic life, who was 
still living in the desert of Lower Egypt. Marcella 
became acknowledged as a teacher. The elder Paula 
sent her daughter Eustochium to live and study 
with her before they left Rome in 385. Christians 
asked her to settle disputes over the interpretation 
of texts. She modestly never took credit for herself, 
however, and always noted the authority from 
whom she had gained insight. 

All during her life Marcella also maintained an 
extensive correspondence. The letters of Jerome 
mention her years of corresponding with Paula, 
the elder Melania, and Eustochium, to name 
only a few. After the exchange of many letters, 
Marcella met Jerome in 382 when he came to 
Rome. They discussed the scriptures and, subse- 
quently over the years, exchanged letters on points 
of interpretation. It was at a scripture reading in 
Marcella's house that the elder Paula had met 
Jerome. Three or four years later, in 386 c.e., a 
year after Jerome left Rome and soon after Paula 
and Eustochium joined him, he wrote Marcella 
on behalf of the three of them urging her to join 
them in Palestine. She chose to remain in Rome. 
After the death of her mother in 388, Marcella 
and her young disciple, Principia, moved to a 
smaller house in a suburb of Rome, which she 
shared with other women who followed her life- 
style. Her sister, Asella, also lived in the house, in 
a small cell of her own. 

Marcella's retiring public posture contrasted 
with her engagement in the Christian debates of 
the day. A contretemps involving Jerome had even 
sent her lobbying to the bishop of Rome. In 397, 
Tyrannius Rufinus, who translated a number of 
works by Origen and had been a close colleague of 
the elder Melania for many years in the East, 
arrived in Rome. During his stay, he published a 
translation of a work of Origen, whose theology 
was now considered suspect by some of the ortho- 
dox. In the preface, Rufinus included praise of 
Origen from an early work translated into Latin by 
Jerome. Jerome, who had since distanced himself 
from Origen, was furious at the implication that 
he still held his earlier views. The normally retiring 
Marcella, siding with Jerome, wrote letters, pro- 
duced witnesses, and demanded that the bishop 
Anastasius condemn Origen as a heretic. The 
bishop bowed to her demands, much to the gratifi- 
cation of Jerome. 

On August 24, 410, the Goths under Alaric 
invaded Rome. The inhabitants were starving. 
The conquerors looted, burned buildings, and 
killed. Soldiers broke into Marcella's house, 
demanded money, and beat her with clubs when 


Marcella the Elder, Claudia 

they discovered she had none. She pleaded with 
them to spare her young disciple Principia. They 
did and took both of them to the Basilica of Paul, 
which was safe. A few days later Marcella died 
with Principia at her side. 



Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 542-543. 

[a] Marcella the Elder, Claudia 

(43 b.c.e.-? b.c.e./c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player 

The elder Claudia Marcella belonged to the gener- 
ation whose childhood was marred by the violence 
of civil wars. Born in 43 b.c.e., Marcella was one 
of three siblings: a brother, Marcus Claudius Mar- 
cellus, born in 42, and a sister, the younger Clau- 
dia Marcella, born in 39. Her father, Gaius 
Claudius Marcellus, consul in 50 b.c.e., died by 
the time she was three years old and she grew up 
under the care of her mother, Octavia (2). As 
intermittent civil war took its toll, her mother col- 
lected in her household children from her own two 
marriages and the orphaned children from the 
marriages of her ex-husband Mark Antony with 
Fulvia (2) and with Cleopatra VII. Octavia edu- 
cated, dowered, and married the children of this 
extended family, assuring republican family lines 
into the next generation. 

Marcella married Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 
28 b.c.e. She was about 15; he was 36 years old. 
She was his second wife. Agrippa was a military 
man loyal to Octavian throughout the civil war. 
She brought Agrippa a tie to an elite republican 
house and to Octavian himself since not only was 
Octavian Marcella's uncle but her great-grand- 
mother was Julia (4), the favorite sister of Julius 

Although austere and older, Agrippa appears to 
have been a good husband. A daughter may have 
been born to them. Seven years later, however, the 

marriage succumbed to new political realities. 
Marcella's brother had died two years earlier. He 
had been the husband of Julia (6), Augustus's only 
child, and favored for succession. In 21 b.c.e., 
when there was unrest in Rome and Augustus was 
obliged to leave the city, he sought someone of 
unquestioned loyalty. Who better qualified than 
Agrippa, and how better to assure his already tested 
loyalty than a marriage with his daughter Julia. 
Marcella was divorced with Octavia's concurrence. 

Marcella almost immediately married again. 
Her new husband was her childhood playmate, 
Iullus Antonius, consul in 10 b.c.e. He was the 
handsome, cultured second son of Fulvia and Mark 
Antony, and he was some 20 years Agrippa's junior. 
With Antonius she became part of the most visible 
group of post-civil war aristocrats in public life 
with ties to the republican past. They were a part of 
the group around the emperor's daughter, Julia. 

Augustus had made clear on many occasions 
that his daughter and her friends lived a lifestyle he 
found objectionable. In 2 b.c.e. Augustus pro- 
voked a public scandal with a letter to the Senate 
detailing the adulterous behavior of his daughter 
and her friends. It seems probable that more than 
illicit sex was involved. Julia was exiled. We have 
no evidence to what part, if any, Marcella played in 
the scandal. However, her husband was identified 
as the group's ringleader and condemned to death 
for adultery and conspiracy against Augustus. He 
was either executed or forced to commit suicide. 

Marcella and Antonius had a son, Lucius, and 
perhaps a daughter. Nothing is known of the end 
Marcella's life. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 54.6.5. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Antonius 87 .2- 3. 

Seneca. Ad Marciam de consolatione 2.3-4. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Augustus 63.1. 

Balsdon, J. P. V D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 208. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschafi 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 422. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 



[b] Marcella the Younger, Claudia 

(39 b.c.e.-? c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political wife 

Claudia Marcella was born in 39 b.c.e. and grew 
up part of the first post-Actium generation. Her 
father, Claudius Marcellus, was consul in 50 b.c.e. 
and died in 40. She spent her youth in the house- 
hold of her mother, Octavia (2), with her siblings, 
the children of her mother's marriage with Mark 
Antony, and the orphaned children of Mark Ant- 
ony and his two wives, Fulvia (i) and Cleopatra 
VII. Marcella, the descendant of a great republican 
house, was the great-granddaughter of Julia (4), 
the favorite sister of Julius Caesar. She and her sib- 
lings provided a critical link between the republi- 
can past and the new empire. 

About 15 b.c.e. when she was 24, she married 
Paullus Aemilius Lepidus, consul suffectus in 34 
b.c.e. and censor in 22. Possibly there had been an 
earlier marriage. The marriage linked two honored 
republican houses and tied them closely to the 
imperial circle. Before her husband died, Marcella 
gave birth to a son, Paullus Aemilius Regulus. 

After her husband's death she married Marcus 
Valerius Messalla Barbatus Appianus, consul in 12 
B.C. She outlived him. They had a daughter, 
Claudia Pulchra, and a son, Messalla Barbatus. 
Her son married Domitia Lepida, and their child, 
Valeria Messallina, would become the wife of the 
emperor Claudius. Marcella would have been 
about 64 when Messallina was born; it is not 
known if she was still alive. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 71,73, 74. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 423. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

Roman: Trier, Rome 

[a] Marcellina 

(c. 330-335-c. 398 c.e.; 
Christian ascetic 

Marcellina lived in Rome and provided her younger 
brother Ambrose, bishop of Milan, with a trusted 

Roman base. When Ambrose was ill, she traveled to 
Milan to nurse him. In Milan and Rome she was 
part of the elite circle of women who lived ascetic 
lives but remained active in religious politics. 

Marcellina had another younger brother 
Satyrus. Her father was also named Ambrose and 
was Prefect of Gaul, which included jurisdiction 
over Spain, Britain, and part of Africa. Her mother, 
a native of Rome, remains otherwise unknown. 
The family had long been Christian. Sometime 
around 533, Marcellina publicly vowed to live her 
life a virgin and an ascetic, after she had spent five 
years studying with Liberius, the bishop of Rome. 
Ambrose described the ceremony of her dedication 
to asceticism in his writing on virginity. 

Marcellina remained at home in Rome with her 
mother to educate her brothers until she felt the 
need for a more contemplative life. With a group 
of like-minded women she established a commu- 
nal house in a family residence on the outskirts of 
the city. When Ambrose became bishop of Milan, 
he turned over his estates to the church but left 
Marcellina a life interest from the revenue. 

They were contrasting personalities. Ambrose 
was an electric leader and a committed Christian 
proselytizer. He dominated the Christian commu- 
nity in Milan. Marcellina, most of the time living 
in Rome, was always in the background, even 
when she visited Milan. Nonetheless, she influ- 
enced him, and he admired her. He was also con- 
cerned with her tendency to extreme asceticism, 
which he feared could affect her health. 

Marcellina and Ambrose frequently exchanged 
letters. In a long letter, Ambrose described his con- 
flict with Justina, who wanted a basilica in Milan 
reserved for Arian believers. Marcellina worried 
about the political unrest that the conflict might 
engender. Despite the presence of soldiers, how- 
ever, the populace rallied behind Ambrose. Justina 
did not prevail, and his sister's fears were allayed. 

The death of Satyrus in 379 saddened Marcel- 
lina and Ambrose. Nineteen years later, Ambrose 
died, in 397, and Marcellina followed not long 
after, in about 398. 


Ambrose. Letters XX, XXII, XLI. 


Marcia (I) 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 544. 

Marcia (I) 


Roman: Rome 

Marcia was one of three Vestal Virgins charged 
with illicit relations in 1 14 b.c.e. It was believed an 
ill omen for Rome for three out of the six Vestals, 
who protected the sacred flame in one of the city's 
oldest temples on the Forum, to be charged with 
the most serious crime they could commit. 

Of the three, only one, Aemilia (i), was found 
guilty and condemned. Her partner was identified 
as L. Veturius, an equestrian. Although Marcia and 
the third Vestal, Licinia (4), were declared inno- 
cent by the pontifex maximus, popular protest 
resulted in the establishment of a special tribunal 
to reexamine the case. Lucius Cassius Longinus 
Ravilla conducted the investigation. Both Marcia 
and Licinia were found guilty and condemned to 
death in 113. 

Marcia was accused of having had only one 
man, a companion of Veturius. Her sister Vestal, 
Aemilia, was said to have made the arrangements. 
The evidence was given by a slave. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 26, 87. 

Livy. From the Founding of the City 43. 

Orosius. Seven Books of History Against the Pagans 5.15, 

Plutarch. Moralia: Quaestiones Romanae 83 (284). 
Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 

London: Routledge, 1994, pp. 53-55, 57-58. 

Marcia (2) 

(first century b.c.e.) 
political wife 

Roman: Rome 

Marcia divorced her husband to marry another 
man, who died and left her a wealthy widow. She 
then remarried her first husband. Other than the 
obvious financial benefit, any reason for her remar- 

riage remains obscure. Marcia was one of three sib- 
lings. Her father was Lucius Marcius Philippus, 
consul in 56 b.c.e., and her stepmother was Atia 
(1), the mother of the future emperor Augustus 
and his sister Octavia (2) by her first husband. 
Her father's marriage, probably sometime around 
58 b.c.e., was followed by her brother's marriage 
to her stepmother's sister, Atia (2). In consequence, 
there was a double relationship between Marcia 
and her siblings and Augustus and his sister. 

Marcia became the second wife of the younger 
Marcus Porcius Cato. Her husband, attracted to 
the Stoic philosophy, was a stubborn man of rigid 
principles and somewhat unpleasant personality. 
He believed that he alone lived in accordance with 
the traditions of the ancients. He also believed that 
one should only engage in sex to produce children. 
He had two children by his first wife and three 
daughters with Marcia. 

A close friend of her husband, Quintus Horten- 
sius, consul in 69 b.c.e., was a famous orator and, 
like Cato, one of the leaders of the conservative 
oligarchy. When he was in his early 60s and already 
had grown children, he sought to marry Porcia, 
Cato's eldest daughter by his first wife, Atilia. Por- 
cia was already married and had two sons. Unde- 
terred, Hortensius asked Cato to divorce Marcia so 
that he could marry her. Cato agreed if it was ame- 
nable all around. Neither Marcia nor her father 
objected. The divorce and new marriage took place 
in 56 b.c.e. Cato hosted the wedding. No children 
resulted, and Hortensius died leaving Marcia a 
much richer woman. She then remarried Cato. 

During the five remaining years of Cato's life, 
he was said to have refrained from sex with Marcia 
since he felt that they already had enough children 
and Marcia had experienced a sufficient burden in 
bearing them. Marcia might well have concurred 
with their abstinence, given the high death rate for 
women bearing children. Abstinence was abetted 
by Cato's absence. He spent of these years fighting 
with Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the Great) against 
Caesar. In 46, he died by his own hand in Africa 
after Caesar defeated the remaining core of senato- 
rial opposition. Her stepdaughter Porcia also killed 
herself a year before the defeat of Brutus and Cas- 


Marcia (3) 

sius at the battle of Philippi in 42. Marcias life 
after Cato is unrecorded. 


Lucan. Pharsalia 2.326-89. 

Plutarch. Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives): Cato Minor 25 .1— 

5; 52. 
Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 

Comp., 1963, p. 190. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, pp. 158, 160-161. 
Gordon, Hattie. "The Eternal Triangle, First Century B.C." 

Classical Journal '28 (1933): 574-578. 
Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 

D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893-. (Germany: 

multiple publishers) 115. 

(D Marcia (3) 

(first century B.c.E.-first century 

c.e.) Roman: Italy Cyprus, Asia, Spain 

patron of the arts 

Marcia was born into an ancient and honored 
republican family with close ties to the nascent 
empire through Octavian, later the emperor Augus- 
tus, and his sister Octavia (2). Part of the circle 
that included some of the greatest of the Latin 
poets, and she was on the periphery of the scandals 
in 8 c.e. that rocked the Roman elite and resulted 
in the banishment by Augustus of his granddaugh- 
ter Julia (7) and the exile of the poet Ovid. 

Marcias immediate family relationships were 
complicated. Her father was Lucius Marcius Philip- 
pus, tribune in 49 b.c.e., consul suffectus in 38 and 
governor of Spain in 34-33?; her mother, Atia (2), 
was the younger sister of her grandfathers second 
wife. The older Atia (i) had already been married 
once before she married Marcias grandfather. Dur- 
ing her earlier marriage the older Atia had had two 
children, Octavian and Octavia. Marcia, therefore, 
had Augustus and Octavia as a stepuncle and aunt. 
Their children were her stepcousins. 

To further complicate the relationships, after 
Marcias father died, her mother married Quintus 
Fabius Maximus, the father of Paullus Fabius Maxi- 
mus, whom Marcia married in 16 b.c.e. Her hus- 

band had an illustrious career. A close associate of 
Augustus, he was appointed quaestor in 22 or 21, 
elected consul in 1 1, was proconsul in Asia in 10-9, 
and then governor in northwest Spain in 3—2 b.c.e. 

Her husband was also known as an orator and a 
patron of poets. Horace, whose principal benefac- 
tor was Gaius Maecenas, wrote an ode in honor of 
her marriage in 16 b.c.e. Marcia followed her hus- 
band and was honored by a dedication at Paphos 
in Cyprus. A close friend of Marcia and her mother 
was Ovid's third wife, whose name remains 
unknown. Marcia appears in Ovid's poetry. He 
composed a wedding ode to Marcia and her hus- 
band in 12 or 13 c.e. In a poem of 4 c.e., he wrote 
that her beauty matched her noble birth. 

In 8 c.e., Augustus banished Ovid to Tomis on 
the Black Sea for reasons that are still obscure. 
Ovid used his poetry and the friendship of Marcia 
and his wife in an attempt to have the banishment 
rescinded. In a poem written about 13 c.e., he 
admonished his wife to affirm her devotion to 
Marcia. Whatever may have been Marcias efforts 
on Ovid's behalf, however, they were unsuccessful. 

Her husband died in 14. Rumors arose that 
Fabius Maximus had committed suicide and that 
at the funeral Marcia had blamed her indiscretion 
for his death. Her husband had supposedly accom- 
panied Augustus on a secret trip to Planasia where 
Agrippa Postumus, the third son of the great gen- 
eral Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Augustus's 
daughter Julia (6), had been exiled. Still without a 
firm designation of his heir, Augustus was explor- 
ing the possibility that the boy's personality disor- 
ders had mitigated, and perhaps of pardoning him. 
Marcia, a friend of Augustus's wife Livia Drusilla, 
purportedly told her of the trip, and the resulting 
anger of the emperor caused her husband to kill 

Marcia and Maximus had a son, Paullus Fabius 
Persicus, consul in 34 c.e., and a daughter, Fabia 



Dio Cassius. Roman History 56.30, 1—2. 
Tacitus. Annales 1.5.1 ff. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, p. 64. 


Marcia (4) 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 582. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 120. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

. History in Ovid. New York: Oxford University 

Press, 1978, index. 

Marcia (4) 

(?-193 c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Marcia, probably a freedwoman of the co-emperor 
Lucius Verus, protected herself and her own inter- 
ests at a time when imperial power, always arbi- 
trary, had become increasingly unbounded. As a 
young woman and the lover of Ummidius Qua- 
dratus, she was persuaded by Annia Aurelia Gale- 
ria Lucilla, sister of the emperor Commodus, to 
join in a plot to kill the emperor. The plot was 
discovered. Quadratus and Lucilla were executed 
in 182 c.e. Marcia, however, escaped charges and 
punishment and became companion and lover of 
Commodus, whom she greatly influenced. She 
favored Christianity and persuaded Commodus 
to adopt a benign policy toward Christians. She 
asked Victor, the bishop of Rome, for a list of 
Christians who had been deported to Sardinia 
and persuaded Commodus to allow them to 
return to Rome. 

Commodus's behavior became increasingly 
bizarre until in 192, he decided to present himself 
to the Roman people on the first day of the new 
year in a gladiator's costume instead of the tradi- 
tional purple worn by Romans with the power of 
imperium. Marcia could not dissuade him, nor 
could his servant Eclectus or Aemilius Laetus, the 
prefect of the Praetorian Guard. In fact, their 
efforts to control the emperor almost led to their 
execution: A slave boy of the emperor found a list 
of proscribed names. Marcia discovered that the 
list contained the names of many prominent sena- 
tors and that her name, as well as Eclectus and Lae- 
tus, headed the list. 

Marcia, Eclectus, and Laetus decided to kill 
Commodus. Marcia poisoned a cup of wine. Com- 
modus, already made very ill, was strangled. They 
sent the body to the edge of the city and spread a 
rumor that Commodus had died of apoplexy. They 
chose a distinguished senator, Publius Helvius Per- 
tinax, to replace Commoodus and revealed their 
plot to him. He was declared emperor by the Prae- 
torian Guard on January 1, 193. Marcia married 
Eclectus. Six months later, Pertinax was executed 
by members of the Praetorian Guard who were 
angered by his strict discipline, and Marcia and her 
husband were also killed. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 73 .4, 6-7, 22.4-6; 74.16.5. 

Herodian. History of the Empire 1.8.4-5, 8, 16.4, 17.4-11; 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Commodus 11.9; 17.1—2. 

. Didius Julianus 6.2. 

. Pertinax 4.5-2. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 148-150. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 922. 

[a] Marcia Furnilla 

(first century c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political wife 

Marcia Furnilla, the daughter of Antonia Furnilla 
and the senator Marcius Barea Sura, married Titus 
Flavius Vespasianus after his first wife, Arrecina 
Tertulla, died. They had one child, Julia Flavia. 
Titus divorced Marcia Furnilla in 64 c.e., before 
he became emperor. 


Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Titus 4.2—3. 

[a] Marciana, Ulpia 

Roman: Spain, Germany, Italy, and Asia 
Augusta; deified 

Ulpia Marciana lived with her brother, the emperor 
Trajan, most of her adult life. Their parents were 



Marcus Ulpius Traianus and a woman named Mar- 
cia who probably came from Spain. Before she 
moved in with her brother, she had married Matid- 
ius, a little-known senator from Vicetia in north- 
ern Italy. Her husband came from the heartland of 
Antonine support that flourished with her broth- 
er's rise to imperial power. After being widowed, 
Marciana joined Trajan and his wife Pompeia Plo- 
tina in Cologne, where Trajan commanded the 
troops on the Rhine before he became emperor. It 
was a large household and also included Matidia 
(i), Marciana's daughter and a favorite of Trajan 
and his wife, and Matidia's two daughters, the half- 
sisters Vibia Sabina and Matidia (2). 

In 99 c.e. Marciana and her family settled in 
Rome with Trajan and Plotina. Trajan spent much 
of the early years of his reign away campaigning, 
leaving Plotina and Marciana in Rome sometimes 
for as long as three years at a time. In his absence 
they patronized the leading figures of the day to 
encourage the arts and the study of literature and 
philosophy. The future emperor Hadrian, adopted 
by Trajan, was brought up by the women and mar- 
ried Marciana's granddaughter Vibia Sabina in 100. 

Ulpia Marciana 

(Date: 113 C.E. 1967.153.140, Archives, 

American Numismatic Society) 

Marciana and Plotina initially refused the Senate's 
request to honor them with the title Augusta. Both, 
however, accepted in 105. Marciana was the first 
woman to receive this honor who was not either the 
wife or the daughter of an emperor. In 1 12 Marciana 
and Plotina were given the right of coinage. Marci- 
ana died that same year. When Plotina died in 122, 
Hadrian consecrated both of them. 


Pliny the Younger. Panegyricus 84. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 133-136. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 1,570. 

Syme, Ronald. Tacitus. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1958, pp. 231,233, 246, 603. 

[a] Maria 

(c. 385-407/408 c.e.) 
Roman: Rome, Ravenna 
political pawn 

Maria married the emperor of the West, Honorius, 
to assure her parents' political future. Her mother, 
Serena, was the favorite niece of Honorius s father, 
Theodosius the Great, and her father, Stilicho, was 
the emperor's greatest general. She was their oldest 
daughter, born in 385; one year earlier than her 
future husband, Honorius. 

When Theodosius died in 395, he left Stilicho 
regent for Honorius, and both the young emperor 
and his sister, Galla Placidia, in the care of Ser- 
ena. Although Stilicho was regent, it was a position 
that would end with Honorius 's majority and leave 
him dependent on a young and weak emperor. 
Serena, who had always been a favorite of Theodo- 
sius and treated as a daughter, also had no assured 
future with Honorius. Marriage between the cous- 
ins, Maria and Honorius, however, provided Stili- 
cho and Serena a place within the intimate family, 
even after Honorius came of age. There was also 
the possibility of a dynasty. If Stilicho's non-Roman 
birth excluded him from becoming emperor, than 
he could still become the founder of an imperial 
line. Maria's betrothal, in 398 at about 13 years 



old, provided for her parents and, potentially, for 
the continuity of the empire into the next genera- 
tion with children from the young couple. 

Marias education included a thorough ground- 
ing in orthodox Christianity as well as Greek and 
Latin language and literature. Claudian, a leading 
poet of the day and a protege of her mother, praised 
Marias competence in classical Greek at her wed- 
ding celebration. No doubt she was also taught the 
rules of deportment for diplomatic life and to man- 
age complicated households of slaves, dependents, 
extended family, and a constant round of visitors. 
Possibly, she also was taught the rudiments of busi- 
ness that would allow her to manage distant estates 
and income-producing properties. 

At the time of their marriage, the Western 
empire was in serious peril from the invading Goths 
under Alaric. The tried generalship of Stilicho was 
invaluable, and his loyalty, assured by Maria, should 
have satisfied the fears of the young emperor sur- 
rounded by spies, sycophants, and assassins. How- 
ever, Honorius was neither a soldier nor talented in 
his choice of advisors. Possibly, he was also not a 
very good husband. Although no details are known 
of Marias life as a wife, there is some evidence that 
Honorius was impotent or uninterested and the 
marriage was never consummated. 

Maria died childless toward the end of 407 or 
early 408; shortly thereafter her father was 


Zosimus. New History/Zosimus. A translation with com- 
mentary by Ronald T. Ridley. Canberra: Australian 
Association of Byzantine Studies, 1982. 

Oost, Stewart Irwin. Galla Placidia Augusta: a Biographical 
Essay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 720. 

[a] Marina 

(403-449 c.e.) Roman: Constantinople 
ascetic and political actor 

Marina and Arcadia supported their oldest sister, 
Pulcheria, and brother, Theodosius II. Orphaned 

young, they followed Pulcheria's lead and offered a 
public vow of virginity that removed the obliga- 
tion to marry. Marina became a significant land- 
owner in Constantinople and used her resources to 
further the interests of her family. 

Marina's father, Arcadius, was the eastern 
Roman emperor. Her mother, Augusta Aelia 
Eudoxia, was a formidable woman who vigor- 
ously defended her dominion. After the death of 
Aelia Eudoxia in 404, followed by that of Arcadius 
four years later in 408, the Praetorian Prefect 
administered the government as regent for the 
underage emperor. In 413, the 14-year-old Pulche- 
ria made a public declaration of virginity with 
Marina and Arcadia while dedicating an altar in 
the Great Church at Constantinople. A year later, 
Pulcheria was elevated to Augusta by her younger 
brother, and she became regent and guardian for 
him, Marina, and Arcadia. 

Pulcheria introduced an ascetic lifestyle into the 
palace. The family fasted twice weekly prayed, and 
read from the scriptures. Marina and her sisters 
wore modest clothing, eschewed cosmetics, and 
spent time in traditional women's arts. Like previous 
Christian imperial women, they helped the poor 
and sick and provided shelter for the homeless. 

Although the outward trappings of their lives 
were modest, Marina and Arcadia were satellite 
centers of power within the imperial circle. They 
entertained visitors from abroad and brought peti- 
tions to the attention of Pulcheria and Theodosius. 
Marina acquired palatial dwellings in the city and 
the suburbs. Her property holdings in one part of 
the city were so extensive that the district became 
known by her name. Cash rental income from arti- 
sans and tradesmen, as well as income in kind and 
produce from farms outside the city, filled her cof- 
fers and kitchens. She also owned income-produc- 
ing estates in the provinces; some of them inherited 
from her father and others gifts from her brother. 

Marina lived with Pulcheria for most of her life, 
even after both left the imperial palace. The house- 
hold formed a political as well as economic unit. The 
sisters were highly visible in the city and the posi- 
tions they held represented an imperial statement. 
They were orthodox Christians who adhered to the 
Chalcedonian creed that the divine and human 



nature of Christ was cojoined yet separate and lead- 
ers in the conflict to unseat Nestorius, the bishop of 
Constantinople, who challenged their interpretation 
of Mary as Mother of God. In the controversy with 
Nestorius, Marina, like her sisters, received letters 
and calls from both sides entreating support. Marina 
and Arcadia were unwavering. They followed their 
sister and maintained that Nestorius's position of 
Mary as Mother of Christ was heretical and 
demeaned the status of women. Nestorius, whose 
appointment had not been opposed by the imperial 
circle, turned the doctrinal dispute argument into a 
political contest. Marina helped Pulcheria success- 
fully maintain her imperial authority. 
Marina died on August 3, 449. 


Sozomen. Historia Ecclesiastica IX. 1, 3. 

Theophanes. Chronicle AM 5901, 5905, 6053, 6054, 

Holum, Kenneth. Theodosian Empresses: Women and Impe- 
rial Dominion in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: University of 
California Press, 1982. 

[a] Marsa 

(?-early fifth century C.E.) 
Roman: Constantinople 
political player 

Marsa, along with Eugraphia and Castricia, 
were intimates of Augusta Aelia Eudoxia, wife of 
the emperor Arcadius. Marsa's husband Flavius 
Promotus held the post of Master of Soldiers in the 
East and was consul in 389. Eudoxia, whose father 
held the position comparable to Marsa's husband 
in the West, had been sent to Constantinople as a 
girl to live with Marsa and her family. She grew up 
with Marsa's two sons and met her future husband 
Arcadius through them. 

Marsa's husband quarreled with Flavius Rufi- 
nus, who was the Praetorian Prefect of the East 
and who dominated the weak emperor Arcadius. 
At one point, it came to blows, and Flavius Pro- 
motus struck Rufinus in the face. Rufinus per- 
suaded Arcadius to transfer Promotus to Thrace, 
where he was killed in 391 by barbarians, perhaps 
at the instigation of Rufinus. Marsa remained in 

Constantinople, a political ally of Eudoxia. She 
played a supporting role in Eudoxia's opposition to 
John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople. 

John Chrysostom had been appointed bishop 
of the city in 398. Faced with widespread poverty 
and the extraordinary wealth of the privileged few, 
he began to preach against the ostentatious life. In 
403, Chrysostom lashed out against wealthy older 
widows, claiming their fancy hair made them look 
more like streetwalkers than proper women. Marsa 
and her circle considered this a direct attack and 
determined to end Chrysostom's tenure. They 
enlisted Eudoxia, whom he also had offended by 
suggesting that women had no place in public life, 
and allied themselves with bishops and monks to 
whom Chrysostom had been no more gracious. 
Chrysostom went into exile in 404. 

The exact dates of Marsa's birth and death 
remain unknown. 


Palladius. Dialogue 4. 8. 

Socrates. Historia EcclesiasticaVl. 15. 1—3. 

Zosimus. New History/Zosimus. Translation and commen- 
tary by Ronald T. Ridley. Canberra: Australian Associa- 
tion for Byzantine Studies, 1982, 5, 23, 2; 8.16. 1-2. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, p. 72. 

[a] Martina 

(? B.c.E-19/20 c.e.) Syrian: Syria and Italy 

Martina, well known for her skill with poisons, 
became a suspect in 19 c.e. after the sudden 
death of Germanicus Julius Caesar, the popular 
general and probable heir to Tiberius. Martina 
was a client and possibly even a friend of Muna- 
tia Plancina, the wife of Gnaeus Calpurnius 
Piso, consul in 7 b.c.e. and political opponent of 
Germanicus. She appears to have been with 
Munatia, who had accompanied her husband to 
the East, when he was sent by Tiberius to temper 
Germanicus's aggressive policies. Piso and Ger- 
manicus were soon at odds. So too were Munatia 


Matidia (1) 

and the elder Agrippina, Germanicus's wife. After 
Germanicus's death, Agrippina carried his ashes 
back to Rome convinced that her husband had 
died from poison in a plot supported, if not 
arranged, by the emperor. 

In Rome charges were brought against Munatia 
and Piso, who returned under guard after soldiers 
friendly to Germanicus had seized them in the 
East. Martina was also sent back to Rome to testify 
at the trial. She died on her arrival in Italy. Her 
death further inflamed passions on both sides. 
Although no poison was found on her body, some 
claimed that she had hidden the poison in her 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 57.18.6—10. 
Tacitus. Annates 2.74; 3.7. 

Levick, Barbara. Tiberius the Politician. London: Thames 
and Hudson, 1976, pp. 96-97, 103-104. 

(D Matidia (I) 

(68-119 c.e.) 

Roman: Italy, Asia, and Germany 

Augusta; deified 

Matidia lived in the multigenerational household of 
the emperor Trajan. Born no later than 68 c.e., she 
was the only child of Trajan's older sister Ulpia Mar- 
ciana and Matidius, an obscure senator from north- 
ern Italy. Her first marriage seems to have been to a 
man named Mindius of whom nothing is known. 
She gave birth to a daughter named Matidia (2). 
She then married Lucius Vibius Sabinus, consul in 
97 c.e., and they had a daughter, Vibia Sabina. Her 
husband died shortly after his consulship, and she 
moved with her daughters and her mother into the 
household of Trajan and Pompeia Plotina. 

Matidia was honored with the title Augusta by 
Trajan. While her daughter Sabina, who had mar- 
ried the future emperor Hadrian in 100 c.e., 
remained in Rome, Matidia and Hadrian accom- 
panied Trajan and Plotina on the campaign to the 
East in 114. Three years later, in 117, Trajan 
became ill and died in Syria. A letter of Trajan's 
named Hadrian his adopted son and heir. Rumors 
circulated about the authenticity of the letter. Plo- 

Matidia (I) 

(Date: 115 C.E.-//7 C.E. 1001.112738, Archives, 
American Numismatic Society) 

tina and Matidia, however, supported the soldiers' 
acclamation of Hadrian as the new emperor. 
Hadrian, who was campaigning in Syria, met them 
in Antioch and sent Plotina and Matidia to Rome 
with Trajan's ashes. 

Although Hadrian's marriage was difficult, he 
remained close with his mother-in-law. When she 
died in 119, Hadrian gave the funeral oration and 
deified her. He also issued coins in her honor with 
the epithet "Diva Augusta Matidia." She was prob- 
ably the first woman deified by the emperors to 
have a temple in Rome. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 69.1. 

Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Hadrian 5.9; 9.9; 19.5. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 133-139. 

Birley, Anthony Richard. Marcus Aurelius: Emperor of Rome. 
Boston: Little, Brown, 1966, p. 241. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 937. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 28. 


Melania the Elder 

(D Matidia (2) 

(first-second century c.E.) 

Roman: Italy, Asia, Germany, and Egypt 

never married 

Matidia was an extremely unusual woman in a 
society where nearly everyone, man and woman, 
married at least once. She never married. Matidia 
grew up with her mother, half sister, and grand- 
mother in the household of Pompeia Plotina 
and the emperor Marcus Ulpius Trajan. Her 
mother was the only child of Ulpia Marciana, 
the eldest sister of the Trajan. Matidia's half sister, 
Vibia Sabina, became the wife of the emperor 

Matidia shared a taste for cultured life with her 
mother, Marciana, and Plotina. In latter life she 
was close to her great-nephew Marcus Aurelius 
and when he was emperor, his daughters some- 
times stayed with her. At her death, she left 
bequests of a million sesterces to some members of 
her family and associates. The money was to be 
administered by the younger Annia Galeria Faus- 
tina, the wife of the emperor, and distributed at 
the rate of 50,000 sesterces a year. 

Like many wealthy women who remained 
childless, she attracted a number of hangers-on 
who hoped to be remembered in her will. They 
persuaded her to include a number of codicils. As 
she lay unconscious, on her deathbed some took 
the opportunity to seal the codicils, thereby assur- 
ing their validity. Over half of her estate became 
encumbered and was assigned to nonfamily mem- 
bers, an illegal condition under the provisions of 
Lex Falcidia. 

The bequests grew into a contentious issue. 
Marcus Cornelius Fronto, orator, former tutor, 
and close friend of Marcus Aurelius, sought a solu- 
tion. He expressed particular concern about the 
jewels, especially Matidia's valuable pearls. Faus- 
tina, the emperor's wife, refused to buy the pearls 
or any of the other jewelry. Fronto surmised that 
she feared being accused of buying them cheaply. 
Finally, Aurelius washed his hands of the matter 
and turned over the problem of the will and jewels 
to his co-emperor, Lucius Verus. 


Fronto. Epistulae pp. 95-99. 

Birley, Anthony Richard. Marcus Aurelius: Emperor of Rome. 
Boston: Little, Brown, 1966, pp. 132, 241. 

[a] Melania the Elder 

(c. 340-c. 410 c.e.) 

Roman: Spain, Italy, Egypt, Palestine 


Melania lived a varied and rich life. She was an 
intellectually and physically fearless woman who 
risked her life and her honor for what she believed. 
Fully engaged, she left her mark on everyone she 
met. Melania lived at the forefront of the emerging 
Christian ascetic movement in the fourth century. 
She embraced the ascetic life with enormous gusto, 
relishing the deprivation of bathing and the luxuri- 
ous living she abandoned. She also eschewed a life 
of solitary confinement or a communal life with 
only virgin women and widows and traveled 
widely, mingling with leading thinkers and reli- 
gious figures. Although she was a great admirer of 
Origen, she did not attack those who held ortho- 
dox opinions contrary to her own. Melania was 
more interested in converting pagans to Christian- 
ity than splitting the church with heresies. 

Melania was the granddaughter of Antonius 
Marcellinus, consul in 341. The name of her hus- 
band remains unknown. Born in Spain, at 14 years 
old she married and soon moved to Rome. Eight 
years later when she was 22, her husband and two 
of her three sons died of the same illness. In 
November 372, she left her remaining son, Vale- 
rius Publicola, in Rome, took all her movable 
goods, and sailed to Alexandria where she sold 
everything and became an ascetic. 

Not unexpectedly her relatives, possibly on both 
sides of the family, were furious. She had carried 
away a part of the family wealth, while they were 
probably jockeying for position to gain control over 
the young widow and the money. In a social and eco- 
nomic environment where inheritance was one of 
the principal roads to wealth, her usurpation of the 
movable goods and their subsequent sale diminished 
the total wealth available to everyone connected 


Melania the Elder 

with her. Nor was the fourth century a time when 
new assets were easily created. The Goths were 
threatening Italy and the Vandals Spain. Scarcely a 
generation later, Rome fell to Alaric and Spain to 
the Vandals. 

Leaving aside some suspicion that Melania left 
Rome precipitously to avoid the family using their 
influence either to stop her or establish claim to 
her wealth, she was possibly a cannier woman of 
business than has been thought. Alexandria was a 
good destination. It was a major trading center and 
well equipped for buying and selling objects, 
including gold or silver. Alexandria had another 
attraction. It was at the edge of the desert, where 
the new ascetic movement was burgeoning. From 
the perspective of economics as well as her future 
religious life, Melania may have seen more advan- 
tage in sailing for Egypt than defending her wealth 
in court against her family in Italy. 

Melania possessed vast income-producing 
estates in Italy, Spain, Africa, Gaul, and Britain. As 
a widow, she probably had absolute control over 
the portion of her family's properties that she 
inherited or that had been her dowry. If she was 
regent for her son, she also probably held legal 
control over the inheritance that would be his on 
attaining his majority. Her annual income would 
be the sum of these properties, including the profit 
from slave workshops, whatever monies she had 
that were loaned out, or in modern terms, invested 
in operations she did not necessarily own but 
financed, as well as income from urban properties 
with rentals for shops and apartments. If she were 
more speculative, she might also have had an inter- 
est in mines and even the risk capital pools estab- 
lished for shipping. 

Before and after arriving in Alexandria, Melania 
provided amply for her son. She also sold estates in 
Italy, Spain, Africa, and Gaul and used the income 
for charitable and religious purposes. Her distribu- 
tion of funds to the poor may have further encour- 
aged some of her family to seek control over her 
inheritance. From their perspective, simply to give 
money away outside of the family or to those dis- 
tantly connected with the family would be evi- 
dence of an inability to manage affairs. 

Melania saw a different world. Wealth was the 
weight that held her earthbound when she wanted 
to soar. She adopted a personally severe lifestyle. 
She wore the coarsest clothing, ate the simplest 
food sparingly, fasted, and eschewed all other com- 
forts. When she was 60, she boasted that over the 
past decades she had washed only her fingertips 
and had never been transported in a litter or slept 
in a bed. The chronicler Palladius and her cousin, 
Paulinus of Nola, praised her masculine qualities; 
they found it difficult to believe a woman could 
endure such an ascetic life. However, her asceti- 
cism was neither male nor female, it rested on the 
irrelevance of bodily comfort to the joy of her dis- 
covery of the spiritual self. 

Melania traveled from Alexandria to Mount 
Nitria in the Egyptian desert where she spent about 
six months. She met with monks of renown, 
including Dioscorus, bishop of Hermopolis, 
Isidore the Confessor, and four monks known as 
the Tall Brothers. Many of those she met had been 
banished for their orthodoxy by the Arian bishop 
of Alexandria. Melania used her own money to 
supply their needs, and since they were without 
serving women, in the evenings she served them 
herself. The Roman consul of Palestine unknow- 
ingly imprisoned her, finding her in the company 
of the banished man, and sought a bribe for her 
release. Indignant, Melania reverted to her posture 
of proud and arrogant Roman and informed him 
of her illustrious background. He apologized and 
released her. 

In 375, many of the orthodox in exile were 
allowed to return and Melania went to Jerusalem 
where she lived for 27 years. She still had enough 
funds for building projects and charity. When her 
funds were unavailable or insufficient, however, 
she had no hesitation about soliciting more from 
family and friends, including the son she left 
behind. In 379, she built a monastery that brought 
50 widows and young women virgins together in 
communal life. It became a stopping place for 
innumerable bishops, monks, other church offi- 
cials, and male and female visitors who came on 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The elder Paula and 
Jerome, who were among her visitors, received 


Melania the Elder 

information that helped them establish their own 
communities on the Mount of Olives. 

Melania read widely and was attracted to the 
works of the Christian thinker Origen. Nor did 
she read casually: She studied the texts and was 
committed to the distribution of Christian ideas 
and learning through the written word. Tyranius 
Rufinus of Aquileia, a translator of the works of 
Origen, whom she had met in the Egyptian desert, 
joined her Jerusalem. They distributed money to 
churches, monasteries, prisoners, and refugees, as 
well as providing shelters for travelers for some 1 8 
years. Melania also built him a monastery for men 
on the Mount of Olives in which he trained monks 
as copyists. 

Melania's religious beliefs were tinged with Ori- 
genism, which deviated from strict orthodoxy. Her 
generosity of spirit found an echo in Origen. Not 
only did he offer everyone the promise of ultimate 
salvation, but his position also promised women 
an end of the burden of Eve's sin. Not surprisingly, 
Melania also sought to moderate conflicts over 
doctrine among the bishops, although on more 
than one occasion she participated in the defense 
of her beliefs and of those in whom she believed. 
In 394, bitter controversy broke out when Epipha- 
nius, the bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, attacked 
Origen in a sermon that he preached while visiting 
Jerusalem. The contretemps, related by Jerome, 
lasted at least three years and grew increasingly 
complicated. It became almost farcelike, with an 
unwilling ordination and a secret intercepted let- 
ter. After several appeals to authority, Melania and 
Rufinus helped smooth both sides, and a peaceful 
compromise became possible. 

The late fourth century was followed by even 
more difficult times. Word reached Melania in 
Jerusalem that the writings of Origen were under 
attack in Rome and that her granddaughter and 
husband, the younger Melania and Pinianus, 
were faced with family opposition about adopting 
an ascetic life and selling their estates. She hastened 
to Rome, traveling as far as Italy with her friend 
Rufinus who later met up with her in Rome. It was 
sometime in 402 when Melania landed in Naples 
where her family waited, including her son Public- 

ola and his wife, the younger Albina, and the 
younger Melania and Pinianus. They visited Pauli- 
nus of Nola, who lived nearby, before proceeding 
on to Rome. He remarked on the sight of Melania 
wearing simple garments and sitting on a tiny thin 
horse smaller than a donkey, accompanied by the 
decorated horses and litters with gilded side-cloths 
shielding wealthy women dressed in silk clothing. 

She lived with her family in Rome for several 
years during which she encouraged the younger 
Melania and her husband toward an increasingly 
ascetic lifestyle. She also acted as an intermediary 
with their parents and extended families in discus- 
sions about their life choices. 

The interpretation of the works of Origen 
reached a critical eruption during this period that 
turned Jerome, who had long been a friend, visitor, 
and admirer of Melania, into a lifelong enemy. 
Origen had developed a Christian Neoplatonism 
which integrated the pagan philosophy with Chris- 
tian faith. The doctrine presented many with an 
appealing union. He also established a hierarchy 
that had a satisfying clarity. God was supreme. 
Christ the son was a second God, ranked below 
the father and embodying logos (wisdom). The 
Holy Spirit was within the Saints, which ranked 
below Christ but a cut above everyone else. Even- 
tually everyone created by God would be redeemed, 
including the devil. Free will allowed choice but it 
precluded the permanent choice of evil. 

Some began to call Origenism a heresy. Jerome, 
who once had been an admirer and had translated 
some of Origen's work from Greek into Latin, now 
distanced himself from his earlier praise. When 
Rufinus published a translation of one of Origen's 
works in which he repeated in the preface some 
admiring words that Jerome had once written, 
Jerome became incensed and broke off relations 
with Rufinus and Melania, who strongly supported 
her partner. He never forgave her, and, after her 
death, Jerome referred to her as perfidious and 
would not even mention her name. 

His attack on Melania was a sophistic exercise 
and disproportionate to the circumstances. Over 
many years Melania had freely given of herself and 
her wealth. Jerome had accepted her largesse and 


Melania the Younger 

praised her goodness. In a letter to Asella, written 
in 385, he praised her behavior after the tragic 
deaths of her husband and two children. In another 
letter he again praised her, this time for her moder- 
ation, since she neither had rent her clothes nor 
cried out and unbound her hair, but tearless when 
faced with tragedy, vowed to serve Christ. To some 
degree, however, Melania prevailed. The younger 
Melania and Pinianus retained their friendship 
with Rufinus, Palladius, and Paulinus of Nola, all 
of whom were Origenists in Jerome's eyes. 

It is not clear when Melania left Rome, although 
it was probably before 406 since her son was still 
alive and he was known to have died by the end of 
the year. Possibly her business acumen once more 
served her well. At some point she went to Sicily, 
where she sold her remaining property. It was none 
too soon, since by 408 Alaric and his Goths were 
at the gates of Rome. She was in Africa when she 
received word of her son's death in 406. She 
returned to Jerusalem, disbursed the rest of her 
money, and died in 410. 


Jerome. Letter XXX 9; XLV 4, CXXXIII 3. 

Palladius. The Lausiac History XLVI, LIV 54. 

Paulinus of Nola. Letter 29. 

Clark, Elizabeth A. "The Lady Vanishes: Dilemmas of a 
Feminist Historian after the Linguistic Turn." Church 
History 67, no. 1 (March 1998): 14-31. 

Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I. Edited by 
A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Reprinted 
1992, pp. 592-593. 

[b] Melania the Younger 

(c. 383-December 31, 439 c.e.) 
Roman: Rome, Sicily, Africa, Palestine 

Melania admired her grandmother, the elder 
Melania, and at very early age determined to live 
a life patterned on hers. Her grandmother was not 
an easy woman to emulate. She lived life with 
gusto, although a Christian ascetic. She flaunted 
custom, although when necessary she behaved as 
an arrogant Roman aristocrat, and she used her 

wealth to fund her causes, despite the pleas of her 
family. The younger Melania, however, was suc- 
cessful in her quest. Using tragedy and opportu- 
nity to her advantage, she lived in a chaste marriage, 
confounded custom, traveled widely, studied 
Christian texts, and played an active role in the 
extraordinary happenings of her times. 

Melania came from a mixed Christian/pagan 
family, which was not uncommon among the 
Roman aristocracy of the time. Melania's father 
was Valerius Publicola, the sole surviving child of 
the elder Melania. Her mother, the younger 
Albina, was a devout Christian and member of 
the patrician Caeionii clan that was a political and 
economic force in Rome. Melania's grandfather, 
Ceionius Rufinus Albinus, had been prefect of 
Rome from 389-391. He may have been pagan, 
and her uncle, the eminent Rufius Volusianus, 
converted to Christianity on his deathbed. 

In 397, at age 14, Melania married the 17-year- 
old Pinianus. His views on the marriage are 
unknown, but she was not happy. Although an 
extremely suitable match that brought together 
two young people from similar backgrounds, 
Melania did not want to marry. It was unlikely 
that her parents forced her into marriage and in 
fact was not legally possible. Rather, she was young, 
and, it was probable that, despite her pleas to 
remain unmarried and live an ascetic life, her fam- 
ily offered many reasonable arguments about the 
suitability of the match, the importance of the 
union for the future of both families, and the 
assurance that she would find her life as a married 
woman and mother rich and fulfilling. 

Melania gave birth to a girl and then a boy. Both 
died. There must have been enormous anticipation 
and great sadness. The children's deaths confirmed 
Melania's belief that her destiny was to follow in the 
path of her grandmother. She implored her hus- 
band to allow her to live the chaste life that she so 
ardently desired. She offered to honor and follow 
him if he would choose an ascetic life and practice 
chastity in their marriage. If this was not his choice, 
however, she offered him his freedom and the 
dowry she had brought with her. She argued with 
her resistant husband passionately that had God 


Melania the Younger 

wished them to have children, the children would 
not have died. Pinianus could not long withstand 
the despair that affected her health. 

Melania's parents, especially her father, argued 
against their adoption of celibacy. Nor was the 
young couple's decision approved by other rela- 
tives, friends, and associated peers. Melania was an 
only child, and their decision effectively ended the 
family line, which had an illustrious history of 
consuls and praetorian prefects. Pinianus's brother 
Valerius was incensed at their intention to devote 
their wealth to the poor. The times were not good, 
and perhaps he viewed the couple's generosity as a 
wanton dissipation of the family assets to people 
they neither knew nor for whom they held any 
obligations or responsibilities. Insofar as family 
wealth was corporate, regardless of who held the 
legal title in any one generation, the wealth could 
be understood as belonging as much to Valerius 
and Valerius's children as to Pinianus and his. 

As it happened, Melania and Pinianus were not 
yet 25. They could choose celibacy, but they were 
below the minimum age to divest family property 
under their own authority. Her father, and reluc- 
tantly her mother, instituted a suit to stop attempts 
to liquidate or donate family property. They had 
the support of the extended families, whose con- 
flicting loyalties and contentious relationships were 
subsumed to the collective interest in maintaining 
the combined families' wealth. 

Melania and Pinianus were not deterred. They 
evolved a gradualist approach. Melania wore plain 
coarse garments. She transformed her silk robes into 
coverings for church altars and adapted other gar- 
ments for use as religious ornamentation. She also 
increased her periods of fasting. Her husband, who 
found it more difficult to adopt an ascetic life, 
adopted coarse garments following Melania's lead 
and pressure. Together they visited the sick and poor, 
as well as prisoners and those working in mines. 
They also welcomed travelers into their house. 

Melania's grandmother, who had lived in Jeru- 
salem for the past 27 years, heard about the cou- 
ple's efforts to lead an ascetic life and to withstand 
family opposition. The news came at about the 
same time as controversy over the possibly hereti- 

cal nature of the Christian thinker Origen's work 
surfaced in Rome. The elder Melania had long 
been attracted to Origen's work, and her close 
companion in Jerusalem was Tyrannius Rufinus of 
Aquileia, the foremost translator of Origen from 
Greek to Latin. The elder Melania decided the 
time had come to return to Rome. In Italy she was 
welcomed by the whole family — her son, Public- 
ola, and daughter-in-law, the younger Albina, and 
her granddaughter, the younger Melania and her 
granddaughter's husband, Pinianus. They traveled 
to Rome where the elder Melania stayed with the 
family until her return to Africa sometime before 
Publicola's death in 406. While in Rome, the elder 
Melania strengthened the young couple's resolve 
and also urged her son and daughter-in-law to 
moderate their opposition. Publicola relented just 
before his death and gave his support to the young 
couple. After his death, the widowed Albina, who 
was always a reluctant opponent, joined her daugh- 
ter in a celibate life. 

Melania, Pinianus, and Albina moved out of 
their palatial residence to a more modest villa on the 
Appian Way. However, they were still threatened 
with suits from their extended families. The Roman 
elite were relatively few in number and the city 
small. The networks of relationship among the two 
extended families dominated the Senate and the 
courts in the city. The couple appealed directly to 
the emperor through Serena in whose household 
the young emperor Honorius had grown up. No 
doubt Melania and her husband, as well as Albina, 
had on occasion found themselves in the same com- 
pany as Serena. She too was a Christian and, even 
though the politics of the senatorial elite were often 
in opposition, sometimes deadly opposition, with 
the emperor, in many instances they shared class 
interests. In fact, Pinianus had offered to sell Serena 
the palatial house from which he had only recently 
moved with Melania and his mother-in-law. 

Serena secured from the emperor the necessary 
authority to liquidate family estates. The emperor 
allowed them to dispose of their property through- 
out the empire and also ordered the governors and 
prefects of the provinces in which they held estates to 
sell the properties for them and remit the proceeds 


Melania the Younger 

directly to them. It was all that the couple needed. It 
not only gave them full authority but also elimi- 
nated the possibility that they or an agent would 
have to personally travel to the provinces, finalize 
the transfers, and arrange for the payment transfers. 
They began the liquidation of their discretionary 
assets and the sale of estates immediately. It was a 
complicated task. The two together were probably 
among the richest Romans with an annual income 
estimated by the ancient author and contemporary 
Gerontius as approximately 120,000 pieces of gold, 
which would have a probable equivalency of about 
1,666 pounds of gold in modern terms. One estate, 
near Rome, included a palatial villa and 62 settle- 
ments, each inhabited by some 400 slaves. In all, 
Melania freed 8,000 slaves in Rome. Others threat- 
ened revolt and refused to be sold. Those she gave to 
Pinianuss brother for three coins. In addition to Ital- 
ian estates in Campania, they also had properties in 
Sicily, Africa, Spain, Britain, Gaul, and North Africa, 
all of which were income producing and mostly 

They distributed their movable goods to the 
poor. They gave some 100,000 coins through vari- 
ous emissaries to be spent on charitable enterprises. 
Additionally, Melania sent 10,000 pieces of gold 
and silver to Egypt and adjacent provinces, 10,000 
pieces of gold to churches on various islands, 
10,000 to Antioch and vicinity, and 15,000 to Pal- 
estine. She also made large donations to a variety 
of places in the West. 

Melania was perhaps as astute a businesswoman 
as her grandmother. In 408—409, along with her 
husband and mother, she left for Sicily, having 
held on to their properties in Sicily, Spain, and 
Africa. They had sold out as the Italian political sit- 
uation rapidly deteriorated. Alaric and his army of 
Goths were en route to Rome, Stilicho had been 
executed by Honorius, and their protector, Serena, 
had been strangled by orders of the Roman Senate. 
The pagan prefect of Rome, with the approval of 
the Senate, decided to confiscate Melania and Pin- 
ianuss remaining property in the city. Although 
the prefect was killed before he could execute the 
order, destruction by the Goths two years later 
resulted in the loss of any unsold property. 

Their trip to Sicily was eventful. Blown off 
course to an island where the inhabitants of the 
city were being held for ransom, they paid 2,500 
gold coins toward the sum demanded by the 
attackers, along with an extra 500 gold coins and 
provisions to relieve the dire situation within the 
city. In Sicily, Melania and Albina lived with some 
60 free or freedwomen, of whom some were her 
own former slaves. Pinianus lived with 30 men. He 
spent his time reading, gardening, and holding 
conferences with visiting holy men. They also con- 
tinued to liquidate property and sold most of their 
estates in Numidia and Mauritania but retained 
those in Spain, where invasions had temporarily 
overwhelmed the land market. 

In 410, as Alaric invaded Rome, the couple left 
Sicily for North Africa and their estates at Tha- 
gaste, not far from Carthage, in the bishopric of 
Alypius, renowned for his knowledge of the scrip- 
tures. Nearby was Hippo and the bishop Augus- 
tine whom they were also eager to meet. As with 
many of their properties, the estate at Thagaste was 
larger than the nearby city. In addition to the cen- 
tral villa and outbuildings, it housed a resident 
population of freed and enslaved workers, includ- 
ing craftsmen expert in working gold, silver, and 
copper. Soon after their arrival, Melania, Pinianus, 
and Albina visited Hippo. Their wealth and gener- 
osity excited the community who filled the church. 
The congregation demanded that Augustine ordain 
Pinianus, which they believed would commit him 
to a donation. Augustine refused unless Pinianus 
consented and added that he would leave his post 
of bishop rather than engage in a forced ordina- 
tion. When the congregation became unruly, 
Melania and her mother felt physically threatened. 
The three returned to Thagaste unhappy and 

Pinianus sent a message to Augustine threaten- 
ing to leave Africa if he were ordained against his 
will. A compromise was reached. Pinianus agreed 
to reside in Hippo, should he decide to be ordained. 
Alypius, who had the interests of his own bishopric 
to contend with, refused to join Augustine in the 
compromise. There was further negotiation, and in 
the end Melania demanded that Augustine not 


Melania the Younger 

sign the compromise agreement. Augustine, how- 
ever, wrote Albina a long letter in which he 
explained, if not justified, the behavior of the con- 
gregation as well as his own ambiguities about the 
need to seek support from wealthy Christians for 
the benefit of the church and the poor. 

Poverty and heresy consumed Augustine's time. 
The area of Thagaste and Hippo were poor. 
Although still untouched by the Goths, the agri- 
cultural and urban infrastructure had been declin- 
ing for several generations. Independent landowners 
had all but disappeared, and land had devolved 
into estates like that owned by Melania and Pinia- 
nus, who, until the capture of Rome in 410, had 
largely been absentee landlords. Not only was pov- 
erty rife, but there was no Christian unity. The 
Donatist church was everywhere. Donatism arose 
in the Diocletian persecutions at the end of the 
third century when passionate Christians willingly 
suffered and even died for their faith. The succes- 
sors of these passionate Christians became a sect 
with ordained bishops and churches. Their adher- 
ents maintained a strong appeal among the poor 
and championed independence from imperial 
authority. Efforts at reconciliation with the main- 
stream orthodox community were rebuffed or 
botched. Donatists dominated in many of the 
places around Carthage, and Augustine's opposi- 
tion notwithstanding, they were sufficiently force- 
ful that before Melania and Pinianus donated their 
estate at Thagaste to the traditional orthodox 
church, they also established two bishops on the 
property, one orthodox and the second Donatist. 

Melania, Pinianus, and Albina remained at Tha- 
gaste for approximately four years. They built two 
large monasteries, one for women and the other 
for men. Urged by Alypius, Augustine, and the 
bishop of Carthage, they also endowed them. In 
the women's monastery Melania and Albina lived 
with 130 virgin women and widows, and Pinianus 
lived with 80 men. During their stay, Melania 
became more rigorous in her asceticism and began 
longer fasts accompanied with repeated readings of 
the Latin and Greek scriptures. She also directed 
the women residents, who followed a strict regi- 
men of deportment and prayers. 

In 414, disregarding the compromise oath by 
Pinianus, they left Thagaste, never to return. On 
their way to Jerusalem, they stopped in Alexandria, 
where they were welcomed by Cyril, the bishop of 
the city. After their arrival in Jerusalem in 417, 
Melania and Albina lived together in cells for pil- 
grims attached to the Church of the Holy Sepul- 
cher. They sold their remaining property in Spain 
and used the money to travel back to Egypt and 
visit the ascetics who lived in the desert. Following 
in the footsteps of her grandmother, they went 
into the mountains of Nitria and distributed 
money everywhere. 

Upon return to Jerusalem, Melania shut herself 
away in a small cell made of wood on the Mount 
of Olives that she had earlier asked her mother to 
prepare. There she stayed each year from January 
through Easter for 14 years, rarely seeing anyone 
except her mother and husband. The rest of the 
year, she lived in Jerusalem with her mother, until 
she had a monastery constructed where she stayed 
for some 1 1 years with women selected by Pinia- 
nus. The monastery had its own cistern and ora- 
tory for prayers. Reminiscent of the younger 
Macrina, Melania chose not to direct the institu- 
tion but devoted herself to teaching and providing 
the example of a holy life. 

In 432, Pinianus died and Melania retreated to 
a solitary life. After some four years, she built a 
monastery for ascetic men by securing funds from 
an anonymous donor. In 436, her uncle Rufius 
Volusianus notified her by letter that he was going 
to Constantinople to assist in the marriage arrange- 
ments of Licinia Eudoxia, the daughter of the 
Augusta Aelia Eudocia, to the emperor in the 
West, Valentinian III. Melania set off for Constan- 
tinople ostensibly to convert her pagan uncle to 
Christianity. The overland trip of some 1,200 miles 
on animals provided by the state took approxi- 
mately 40 days. 

On her arrival, she found Volusianus seriously 
ill. Fearful he would die unbaptized, she threat- 
ened to tell the emperor about his condition. She 
also sent for Proclus, the bishop of Constantinople, 
who convinced him to accept baptism. Volusianus 
died in January 437, with Melania at his bedside. 



Melania remained in Constantinople and mourned 
her uncle's death for 40 days. She became an inti- 
mate of Aelia Eudocia, who was delighted with her 
renowned holy visitor. Eudocia expressed her desire 
to make a pilgrimage to Palestine. Eudocia's daugh- 
ter had married and left to live in Ravenna, and 
she felt a growing estrangement from Theodosius. 
Melania convinced the emperor that a trip for 
Eudocia was an ideal arrangement for everyone. 

Melania left for Jerusalem in February 437, on 
an arduous journey in which the travelers encoun- 
tered heavy snow and extreme cold but reached the 
city in time to celebrate Easter. She had a small 
martyrion built on the Mount of Olives to house 
the bones of Saint Stephen. Word arrived that 
Eudocia was arriving in Palestine, and Melania 
went to meet her at Sidon on the coast. Eudocia 
announced that she had come to pray at the Holy 
Places and to see her "mother" Melania. When 
Eudocia left the city, Melania escorted her as far as 
Caeserea. Melania knew her death was near and 
went to celebrate the Nativity in Bethlehem, after 
bidding farewell to the women and men in her 
monastery. She died on December 31, 439. 


Augustine. Letters CXXIV, CXXV, CXXVI. 

Gerontius. The Life of Melania the Younger. Introduction, 

translation and commentary by Elizabeth A. Clark. 

New York: The Edwin Mellon Press, 1984. 
Palladius. The Lausiac History 54, 61. 
Socrates. Historia Ecclesiastica VII. 47. 
Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo: A Biography. Berkeley: 

University of California Press, 1967, 2000, index. 
Clark, Elizabeth A. "The Lady Vanishes: Dilemmas," pp. 

Jones, A. H. M. The Later Roman Empire, 284-602 Vol. 

II, p. 787. 
O'Donnell, James J. Augustine: a New Biography. New 

York: HarperCollins, 2005, index. 


(second century b.c.e.) 

Greek: Italy 

Melinno was a Greek poet who wrote in a Doric 
dialect most probably during the first half of the 
second century b.c.e. Possibly she lived in one of 

the Greek cities in southern Italy, all of which 
came under Roman control after the defeat of Pyr- 
rhus in the middle of the third century. 

She composed a hymn to the power of Rome in 
five Sapphic stanzas. In it she depicted warlike 
Rome, the conqueror of the world, as a goddess 
who was the daughter of Ares, father of the Ama- 
zons. Nothing is known about her personal life. 


Bowra, C. M. "Melinno's Hymn to Rome," Journal of 
Roman History 47 (1957) pp. 21-28. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, p. 953. 

[a] Melissa 

(late seventh century b.c.e.) Greek: Greece 
murder victim 

Melissa was the daughter of Proclus, the ruler of 
Epidaurus in Greece. She married Periander, the 
tyrant of Corinth. He fell in love with her after see- 
ing her body revealed through her dress while she 
was pouring wine for workmen in a field. He mur- 
dered her in a fit of jealously and in despair made 
love to her dead body. 

Periander sent a messenger to Thesprotia to 
consult the oracle of the dead on Acheron, pre- 
sumed to be the entrance to Hades. He sought the 
whereabouts of a pledge given to him by a stranger. 
Melissa was said to have appeared and refused to 
reveal information about the pledge. She claimed 
to be cold in the clothing with which she was bur- 
ied that had not been burned. As proof of who she 
was, she sent a message to Periander revealing 
knowledge that he had had sex with her dead 

Periander ordered all the married women of 
Corinth, including slaves, to go to the temple of 
Hera and remove their clothing. The garments 
were then burned in a pit while he called out the 
name of Melissa. He then sent a second messenger 
to the oracle, and Melissa's ghost was assuaged. 


Athenaeus. Deipnosophistae 589 ff. 
Herodotus. The Persian Wars 3.50; 5.92. 


Messallina, Valeria 

Blundell, Sue. Women in Ancient Greece. London: British 

Museum Press, 1995, p. 68. 
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: 

Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken 

Books, 1975, p. 35. 

[a] Messallina, Valeria 

(c. 20^8 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
power broker 

Valeria Messallina died condemned and notorious. 
Smart, beautiful, arrogant, ruthless, even cruel, 
and certainly seductive, she sought to secure her 
position in the face of a disapproving Senate and a 
powerful group of imperial freedmen who domi- 
nated the reign of her husband, the emperor 
Claudius. Her parents Domitia Lepida and Mes- 
salla Barbatus linked her with the greatest houses 
of the old republic, and on both sides she was a 
Julian, a descendant of Octavia (2) and a descen- 
dant of the emperor Augustus. Messallina was 
somewhere between 14 and 20 years old in 38 or 
39 c.e. when she married the 48-year-old Claudius, 
after he divorced his second wife, Aelia Paetina. 
In a society that prized above all men's military 
prowess and idealized the male body, the young 
and beautiful Messallina's future was linked with 
her far-from-ideal second cousin who since birth 
had suffered from a form of palsy that affected his 
walk and caused a speech impairment. 

Claudius had not been expected to become 
emperor. The many legitimate candidates seemed 
to assure that there would be no problems of suc- 
cession after the death of his uncle Tiberius. 
Claudius's physical condition was perceived as an 
unalterable barrier by Augustus, his grandmother 
LrviA Drusilla, and Tiberius. Livia persuaded her 
husband to consult with Tiberius as to the part 
Claudius should play in public life. A decision was 
made to carefully circumscribe his public appear- 
ances so as to protect Claudius and themselves 
from possible ridicule. One by one, however, pos- 
sible successors to Tiberius died, leaving only the 
young Gaius Caligula and the infant Nero. Calig- 
ula succeeded Tiberius, but after Caligula was 
murdered, the unanticipated happened. Amid the 

general disorder and looting, Claudius was found 
by a soldier hiding in the palace in fear for his life. 
He was taken to the praetorian camp and declared 
emperor by the Praetorian Guard, even as the Sen- 
ate sat in debate over the restoration of the 

Claudius became emperor in January 41, three 
years after his marriage with Messallina. They 
already had a daughter, Claudia Octavia, and 
Messallina was some seven or eight months' preg- 
nant with a son, Britannicus. In an uncertain 
world, the less-than-perfect Claudius and Messal- 
lina were raised to power by the troops and the 
myths of their lineage, but without the support of 
many, if not most, of the Senate. Claudius ruled 
through a small and increasingly powerful clique 
of freedmen — Narcissus, Polybius, Pallas, and Cal- 
listus. In concert with her husband and alone, 
Messallina used these men to rid herself of real or 
perceived threats to herself, her son, and her hus- 
band. To this end she also used the skillful politi- 
cian Lucius Vitellius, a man from the equestrian 
order and a close confidant of Claudius, and Pub- 
lius Suillius Rufus, a senator with a reputation as a 
ruthless prosecutor. 

Danger to Claudius and Messallina came from 
many sides, most especially from those who could 
also claim the legitimate mantle of the Julio-Clau- 
dian family. Julia Livilla was the sister of the 
murdered Caligula, a child of the elder Agrippina. 
Like Messallina, she could claim descent from 
Octavia. She had been exiled by her brother Calig- 
ula for adultery. Julia Livilla's husband Marcus 
Vinicius had offered himself as a possible candi- 
date to succeed Caligula after the latter 's murder. 
One of his claims was the lineage of his wife. 
Although Claudius allowed her to return to Rome 
in 41 c.e., Julia Livilla was accused of adultery and 
again exiled. This time, she was also killed. Her 
alleged lover, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a well-known 
orator and writer, was also exiled. 

Gaius Appius Junius Silanus, consul in 28 c.e., 
was the descendant of several august republican 
houses, a popular leader of soldiers, and a favorite 
with the Senate. He was governor of Hispania Tar- 
raconensis when Claudius recalled him to Rome in 


Messallina, Valeria 

41. Removed from immediate access to an army 
and the rights of imperium, he appeared less of a 
direct threat. Claudius honored him and arranged 
that he and Domitia Lepida marry. Domitia, Mes- 
sallina's mother, was no less a contender for power 
than her daughter. Widowed, her marriage to Sila- 
nus was mutually advantageous. He gained a direct 
connection to the imperial family, and she, a hus- 
band of high repute. 

By the following year, the effort to integrate Sila- 
nus into the imperial family and regime had failed. 
Charged with plotting to kill the emperor, he was 
executed without trial on Claudius's orders. The 
tale of his condemnation reads like a French farce 
and reflects poorly on Claudius, Narcissus, and 
Messallina. Supposedly, Narcissus broke into 
Claudius's bedroom before daybreak to inform the 
emperor that he had had a dream in which Silanus 
had attacked Claudius. Messallina appeared imme- 
diately and told Claudius that she had had a similar 
dream. The two of them had previously arranged 
for Silanus to come to the emperor's bedchamber. 
When he arrived, Claudius thought he was forcing 
his way into his room to assassinate him and ordered 
him executed. Whatever the reasons — Messallina 
may well have suspected Silanus's loyalty — by sid- 
ing with the freedman she violated the code of kin 
and class, angering her mother. Like her daughter, 
Domitia Lepida was beautiful, arrogant, wealthy, 
and accustomed to power. She was also more politi- 
cally astute than Messallina. Her mother was an 
ally Messallina could ill afford to lose, both for her 
political connections and for the advice she might 
have given over the years that followed. 

The death of Silanus sparked an abortive revo- 
lution by the Senate in 42. Since the death of 
Tiberius, tension between the emperor and the 
Senate had heightened. The senators were led in 
Rome by Lucius Annius Vinicianus, who had been 
involved in a plot against Caligula, and Lucius 
Arruntius Camillus Scribonianus, consul in 32 
and now the governor of Dalmatia with an army 
under his command. Arruntius called on Claudius 
to resign. The soldiers, however, did not back him, 
and the revolt ended four days later. The leaders 
committed suicide. Messallina, Claudius, and his 

loyal freedmen had others executed. The sources 
claim that the victors were merciless and included 
men and women among the condemned. The 
numbers of condemned, however, suggest no more 
bloody an end than was traditional, and in fact less 
extreme than some earlier proscriptions. 

For the already suspicious Claudius and Messal- 
lina, the revolt strengthened their focus on possible 
plots. They found evidence of intrigue everywhere. 
In 43 Suillius Rufus accused Julia (8), the wife of 
Rubelius Blandus and the daughter of Livia Julia 
Claudia Livilla and Tiberius's son Drusus Julius 
Caesar, of immoral conduct. She was found guilty 
and killed. The climate of suspicion increased the 
imperial reliance on freedmen, further infuriated 
the elite, and fed popular gossip with tales of impe- 
rial excess, especially about Messallina. 

As in all of Roman history, the gossip about 
women focused on sexual promiscuity, and Mes- 
sallina was a perfect subject. Beautiful, young, and 
seductive, she had no hesitation in using her 
charms for her own interests. It was not hard for 
whispers to suggest that she had had sex with 25 
men in 24 hours and that she had used false names 
to entertain men in brothels. The tales about Mes- 
sallina's sexual misconduct steadily expanded in 
number and outrageousness. There were accounts 
of her forcing innocent wives and daughters into 
sex games in the imperial household while being 
watched by their loving and distraught husbands 
and brothers. 

Nor was Claudius exempt from sexual attacks. 
Messallina was accused of supplying him with 
women and of assuring her own safety from his 
anger by exciting his appetites. The link between 
sex and blood, never far separated in Roman pruri- 
ent literature, placed a long list of killings at the 
door of Messallina, with and without the aid of 
Claudius and the imperial freedmen. Messallina 
was said to have had the prefect of the Praetorian 
Guard, Catonius Justus, killed before he could 
reveal her sexual misconduct to Claudius. In 46 c. 
e., when Marcus Vinicius, the husband of Agrippi- 
na's daughter Julia Livilla, died and was given a 
state funeral, Messallina was said to have poisoned 
him because he refused to succumb to her charms 


Messallina, Valeria 

and might have sought vengeance for the earlier 
death of his wife. 

Later in 46 or early 47, the death of Gnaeus 
Pompeius Magnus, bearer of a great republican 
name, had serious political overtones. He was the 
husband of Antonia (4), the daughter of Claudius 
and his divorced second wife Aelia Paetina. Mes- 
sallina was said to have wanted him killed to pre- 
vent any possible future son who would present an 
alternative in succession to her son Britannicus. 
The sources attributed his death, however, to 
Claudius, not Messallina, and add that Claudius 
also killed some 35 senators and more than 300 
equestrians. Among these were Pompeius's parents, 
Marcus Lucinius Crassus Frugi and Scribonia. 
Their two younger sons were exiled. After the 
bloodbath, Antonia was married to an unthreaten- 
ing husband, Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, the half 
brother of Messallina. 

Messallina was said to have arranged the death 
of Claudius's freedman Polybius for his opposition 
to further purges by Messallina, particularly that of 
Decimus Valerius Asiaticus. Polybius s death in 46 
marked the first break in solidarity between Mes- 
sallina and the powerful freedmen clique. Without 
the support of the senators, and handicapped by 
her image of sexual promiscuity, sowing uncer- 
tainty among the freedmen would prove a fatal 
error for Messallina, but not before the successful 
prosecution of Decimus Valerius Asiaticus. 

In 47 Asiaticus was accused of adultery with 
Poppaea Sabina (i) and of bribery of the troops. 
Asiaticus, consul in 35 and 46 c.e., was a native of 
Vienne, a city on the Rhone in Gaul. He was 
immensely wealthy and proud and lived in great 
splendor. He owned the famous gardens of Lucul- 
lus, which had belonged to Lucius Licinius Lucul- 
lus in the republican era. The package of accusations 
against him, attributed to Messallina, mixed the 
trivial and banal with the threat of revolt. Messal- 
lina was said to have wanted Asiaticuss gardens. 
She implicated Poppaea, an extremely beautiful, 
wealthy, and independent-minded woman whom 
she believed to be his lover and knew to be a rival 
for the attention of Mnester, a well-known actor of 
the day. Messallina used Publius Suillius Rufus to 

lodge the charge of adultery while her son's tutor, 
Sosibius, told Claudius that Asiaticus was about to 
travel to Germany where he planned to foment 
trouble among the troops. 

In a tale reminiscent of the earlier condemna- 
tion of Silanus, on orders of Claudius, Asiaticus 
was brought to the palace in chains from the city 
of Baiae, a fashionable resort on an inlet of the Bay 
of Naples. At an informal hearing in the emperor's 
bedchamber with Messallina present, Suillius pre- 
sented the charges that Asiaticus had corrupted the 
military and committed adultery with Poppaea. 
The sources record that Asiaticuss defense moved 
the listeners to tears. Nonetheless, Messallina 
instructed Lucius Vitellius, consul in 34, 43, and 
47, that Asiaticus was to be indicted. When 
Claudius asked Vitellius whether Asiaticus should 
be acquitted, Vitellius, after praising the latter's 
past service, proposed suicide. Asiaticus commit- 
ted suicide, and Messallina forced Poppaea Sabina 
to kill herself rather than face imprisonment. 

Asiaticus had been among the key instigators in 
the destruction of Caligula, and he had put his 
name forward as a possible replacement. His enor- 
mous wealth and influence in Gaul could well have 
been used to influence and aid forces opposed to 
Claudius. Desire for the gardens of Lucullus or 
jealousy over Mnester, even if true, could in this 
case have covered the ongoing fear of conspiracy 
that marked Claudius's and Messallina's reign. 
However, the death of an exconsul without a trial 
aroused further resentment among senators and 
others opposed to Messallina and Claudius. Con- 
versely, it further pushed Messallina's and Claudius' 
dependence on the imperial freedmen. 

In 48 Messallina fatally mistook the degree of 
support she had among the clique of freedmen. 
She fell in love with Gaius Silius, a senator and one 
of the most handsome men in Rome. Silius was 
already married to Junia Silana. Messallina per- 
suaded him to divorce her. She appeared every- 
where in public with Silius, openly showed her 
infatuation, and showered him with gifts from the 
imperial household. It was a dangerous situation, 
in part because Claudius was rapidly aging, and 
once more talk of succession was in the air. 


Milonia Caesonia 

Silius personified the kind of senator that 
Claudius and the imperial freedmen had most often 
feared and killed. Possibly, he may have already 
begun to array the forces in the Senate that needed 
only support from Messallina to change the advis- 
ers around the emperor and the tone of his reign. 
The powerful freedmen probably sensed the poten- 
tial of Silius and Messallinas partnership. For Mes- 
salinas part, in the face of an increasingly debilitated 
Claudius, whose health and susceptibility to youth- 
ful female charms were an apparent danger, there 
was more to be said for an alliance with Silius, who 
was her contemporary, than with Claudius and the 
freedmen, especially after Silius promised to adopt 
her son Britannicus. Ardor overbalanced caution. 
With Claudius in Ostia, she and Silius sealed their 
bargain and acted out a marriage ceremony, with- 
out any attempt at concealment. 

Her allies among the freedmen deserted her. 
Narcissus persuaded Callistus and Pallas that action 
had to be taken to destroy Messallina. Silius, con- 
sul designate in 48, was young, ambitious, well 
connected, and a danger to all of them. He would 
use his influence with Messallina to undermine 
their positions under Claudius, and if something 
happened to the emperor, their lives would be in 
danger. Narcissus took the lead. His position was 
the most precarious. Lucius Vitellius took a more 
ambivalent position so that he would emerge 
unscathed no matter what happened. 

The scenario was analogous to one that had been 
played before. Narcissus had Calpurnia (2) and 
Cleopatra (4), lovers of Claudius, tell the emperor 
about the marriage. Narcissus then told him that all 
of Rome was aware of the wedding and urged 
Claudius to act before he was deposed by Silius. 
Claudius gave orders for the couples apprehension. 
Narcissus took Claudius to Siliuss house to see the 
valuables Messallina had given him. Fearing that 
Claudius would still forgive Messallina if she con- 
fronted him, Narcissus kept Messallina and their 
children away from Claudius. He turned aside the 
Vestal Virgin Vibidia, who demanded that Messal- 
lina be allowed to defend herself. 

On word of what happened, Silius went to the 
Forum, and Messallina retired to the garden that 

once had belonged to Asiaticus. Silius offered no 
defense and was executed along with a number of 
senators and knights. Domitia Lepida hurried to her 
daughter's side and told her the only honorable way 
out was to kill herself. Messallina still felt that she 
could persuade Claudius to forgive her if she could 
only see him alone. Narcissus had made it impossi- 
ble. Messallina tried to stab herself but failed, and 
she was killed by one of the men sent by Narcissus. 
Her body was turned over to her mother. 

The ultimate irony was that Claudius replaced 
his wife Messallina with the younger Agrippina, a 
more ruthless and devious woman than Messallina 
and surely as intelligent. Agrippina succeeded where 
Messallina has failed and skillfully maneuvered the 
elevation of her son Nero to become emperor, per- 
haps poisoning Claudius to make it possible. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 60.8 .4-5, 12.5, 14.1-4, 18.1- 

Juvenal. Satires 6. 1 1 5-32; 10.329-45. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Claudius 26.2; 27.1; 
29.3; 36; 37.2; 39.1. 

Tacitus. Annates 11.1-5; 12.26-38. 

Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, pp. 97-107. 

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. 
London: Routledge, 1994, index. 

Grimal, Pierre. Love in Ancient Rome. Trans, by Arthur Train, 
Jr. New York: Crown Publishers, 1967, pp. 277-288. 

Levick, Barbara. Claudius: The Corruption of Power. New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993, index. 

Oxford Classical Dictionary, ed. by Simon Hornblower and 
Antony Spawforth. 3d. ed. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1996, pp. 1,576-1,577. 

Pauly, A., G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopadie 
D. Classischen Altertumswissenschaft 1893— (Germany: 
multiple publishers) 403. 

Syme, Ronald. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford: Claren- 
don Press, 1986, index. 

[b] Milonia Caesonia 

(c. 5-41 c.e.) Roman: Rome 
political player 

Milonia Caesonia, born about 5 c.e., joined with 
her husband, the emperor Gaius Caligula, in the 
imaginative and extravagant productions that char- 



acterized the emperors last years. Condemned in 
the sources as promiscuous, she was murdered at 
the same time as the emperor. 

Milonia was the youngest child of Vistilia, a 
woman from Umbria, who was notable for having 
married six men and having borne children with 
all of them. By the time Milonia married Caligula, 
she already had three children from a previous 
marriage. Neither young nor beautiful, she was 
Caligula's fourth wife. They married about the 
time she gave birth to a daughter, Julia Drusilla 
(2). Caligula loved her and was more faithful to 
her than to any other woman with whom he 

Milonia, dressed in helmet, cloak, and shield, 
was reputed to have accompanied her husband to 
review the troops and was said to have sometimes 
paraded nude among friends. She probably 
became very wealthy. Caligula appointed her, 
along with other wealthy individuals, to priest- 
hoods and collected 10 million sesterces from 
each of them for the honor. On January 24, 41, 
Caligula, Milonia Caesonia, and their daughter 
were murdered. 


Dio Cassius. Roman History 59.23.7-8; 28.5-7. 

Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia 7.39. 

Suetonius. The Lives of the Caesars: Gaius Caligula 25.3-4; 

Syme, Ronald. "Domitius Corbulo." Journal of Roman 

Studies 60 (1970): p. 31. 


(third-fourth century c.e.) 
lover of Constantine 

Roman: Asia 

Minervina was the lover of the future emperor 
Constantine. Their relationship ended when Con- 
stantine married Flavia Maxima Fausta in 307 c.e. 
Minervina had a son, Crispus, who grew up in the 
palace. In a scandal whose details are obscure, 
Constantine had the 20-year-old Crispus poisoned 
and his own wife, Fausta, killed in 326. 


Balsdon, J. P. V. D. Roman Women. New York: John Day 
Comp., 1963, p. 167. 


(?-337 b.c.e.) 

Roman: Rome 

Minucia came from a plebeian family that had 
once been patrician. She was the first plebeian Ves- 
tal Virgin, one of the guardians of the sacred flame 
of Rome in the temple of Vesta in the Forum. In 
337 b.c.e. she was convicted of adultery on the tes- 
timony of